Date: Saturday, 02 Nov 2013 04:56
In the Shadow of the Volcano HEALDSBURG, CA: The Cabernet Sauvignon grapevines in Knights Valley, located at the base of the ancient volcano of Mount St. Helena, are beginning to change color in the Autumn just before harvest. INSTRUCTIONS: Download this image by right-clicking on the image and selecting "save link as" or "save target as" and then select the desired location on your computer to save the image. Mac users can also just click the image to open the full size view and drag that to their desktops. To set the image as your desktop wallpaper, Mac users should follow these instructions, while PC users should follow these. PRINTS: Fine art prints of this image and others are available at George Rose's web site: www.georgerose.com. EDITORIAL USE: To purchase copies of George's photos for editorial, web, or advertising use, please contact Getty Images. ABOUT VINOGRAPHY IMAGES: Vinography regularly features images by photographer George Rose for readers' personal use as desktop backgrounds or screen savers. We hope you enjoy them. Please respect the copyright on these images. These images are not to be reposted on any web site or blog without the express permission of the photographer.
Date: Friday, 01 Nov 2013 04:33
Hello from the bottom of the samples pile. This is the latest installment of Vinography Unboxed, where I highlight some of the better bottles of sample wine that have crossed my doorstep recently. This week is the Sparkling Wine edition of Unboxed. Tasting sparkling wine is something best done in large quantities and all at once, right? So this week I popped the cork on a lot of the sparkling samples that I had sitting in a corner, and here's what I thought. The stars of the domestic set were certainly, and predictably a couple of the Schramsberg bottlings. All three of their primary wines, the Blanc de Blancs, Blanc de Noirs, and Rosé are excellent. Another stalwart producer, Iron Horse, had some entries this week, my favorite being their Wedding Cuvee, a very pale rosé that is quite delightful. Speaking of stalwart producers, Villa Sandi shows up with some solid Proseccos from Italy, and Raventos i blanc offers some Cava from Spain that are quite good as well. Pop a cork and let's go! NV Domaine Chandon "Etoile Brut" Champagne Blend, North Coast, California Light greenish gold in the glass with moderately fine bubbles, this wine smells of toasted sourdough, brewers yeast, and baked apples. In the mouth, flavors of buttered biscuit and asian pear are shot through with the strong signature of new oak. Savory, salty, buttery notes linger in the finish along with the oak. Tasty, if a bit woody. 13% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $28. click to buy. NV Schramsberg Vineyards "Mirabelle Brut" Champagne Blend, North Coast, California Medium gold in the glass with medium fine bubbles, this wine smells of wet stones, baked apples, and yeasty bread. In the mouth, a coarse mousse lifts flavors of buttery toast, lemon curd, and fuji apples across the palate. Excellent acidity makes the wine quite mouthwatering, and a faint hint of sweetness counterpoints the tangy sour note in the finish. 12.6% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $22. click to buy. NV Villa Sandi "Il Fresco Prosecco di Valdobbiadene," Prosecco DOC, Veneto, Italy Palest gold in the glass with medium fine bubbles this wine smells of pears and white flowers. In the mouth a coarse mousse of pear, apple, and floral flavors has a tiny hint of sweetness to it, along with bright stony acidity. Crisp and refreshing, if uncomplicated, this is just what you want in a Prosecco. 11% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9.Cost: $15. click to buy. NV Villa Sandi "Vigna La Rivetta " Prosecco, Conegliano Valdobbiadene DOCG Cartizze, Veneto, Italy Pale gold in the glass with coarse bubbles, this wine smells of wet stones and white flowers. In the mouth flavors of pears and asian pears mix with white flowers and a coarse mousse. Tasty, if a bit simple. 11.5% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $38. click to buy. 2008 Iron Horse Vineyards "Russian Cuvee Sparkling Wine" Champagne Blend, Green Valley, Sonoma, California Pale greenish gold in the glass with medium fine bubbles, this wine smells of toasted brioche and baked apples. In the mouth, flavors of brewers yeast, apple, pear, and a hint of white flowers have a wonderful brightness to them thanks to excellent acidity. Notes of brewers yeast and buttered toast emerge on the finish with a hint of oak. Tasty. 72% Pinot Noir, 28% Chardonnay aged on the lees for 4 years before release. 800 cases produced. 13.5% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $36. click to buy. NV Villa Sandi Prosecco, Conegliano Valdobbiadene DOCG, Veneto, Italy Palest gold in the glass with medium fine bubbles, this wine smells of cold cream, pears, and white flowers. In the mouth a soft mousse offers very floral flavors of pear, linalool, and faint notes of honeydew, in a wonderfully airy package. Good acidity. Score: around 9. Cost: $12. click to buy. 2009 Schramsberg Vineyards "Brut Rosé" Pinot Noir, North Coast, California Pale baby pink in the glass with medium-fine bubbles, this wine smells of wet stones and forest berries. In the mouth, bright forest berries, wet stones, and hibiscus flavors float on a velvety mousse. A saline, orange peel quality pervades the finish. Delicious and bright. 13% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $38. click to buy. 2009 Schramsberg Vineyards "Blanc de Noirs Brut " Pinot Noir, North Coast, California Light gold in the glass, with fine bubbles, this wine smells of wet stones, white flowers, and a hint of baked apple. In the mouth the wine is sappy and bright with crabapple tartness mixing with lemon oil, and saline notes for a beautiful, mouthwatering package. Smooth mousse and bright, zingy acidity. 13% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $38. click to buy. 2009 Iron Horse Vineyards "Wedding Cuvee Sparkling Rosé" Champagne Blend, Green Valley, Sonoma, California Palest salmon-colored in the glass with very fine bubbles, this wine smells of wet stones, berries, and watermelon rind. In the mouth, beautifully smooth foam crashes delicate flavors of hibiscus, raspberry, and watermelon onto the palate along with a lovely wet stone quality. A blend of 78% Pinot Noir, 22% Chardonnay. 13.5% alcohol. 2250 cases produced. Score: around 9. Cost: $28. click to buy. 2010 Schramsberg Vineyards "Blanc de Blancs vintage Brut Sparking Wine" Chardonnay, North Coast, California Light gold in color, with a hint of greenish tinge and fine bubbles, this wine smells of brewers yeast and ripe asian pears. In the mouth, a velvety mousse delivers silky flavors of pear, asian pear, a hint of lemon rind, and a nice saline kick at the end of the finish that is quite compelling. Great acidity, and quite refined. 12.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $30. click to buy. NV Gloria Ferrer "Blanc de Noirs" Champagne Blend, Carneros, North Coast, California Pale peachy pink in the glass with medium fine bubbles, this wine smells of hibiscus, crushed berries, and cantaloupe. In the mouth, flavors of orange peel, strawberries, and raspberries have an ever-so-faint sweetness to them. Juicy acidity but somewhat less complex than I'd like. 12.5% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $16. click to buy. NV Domaine Chandon "Etoile Rosé" Champagne Blend, California, California Light coppery colored in the glass with medium-fine bubbles, this wine smells of orange peel, French oak, and hibiscus. In the mouth flavors of rosehip, hibiscus, and orange peel mix with quite strong flavors of oak, amidst a velvety mousse and nice acidity. Notes of wet leaves linger in the finish. 13% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $35. click to buy. 2010 Raventos i blanc "de Nit Rosé Cava" Macabeo, Conca Del Riu Anoia, Penedes, Catalunya, Spain Medium gold in the glass with a hint of copper to it, this wine has medium bubbles and smells of wet leaves, orange peel, and asian pears. In the mouth faintly sweet flavors of asian pear, dried orange peel, and hibiscus have a nice fine-grained quality to them, with decent acidity. The finish is clean and crisp. 12% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $23. click to buy. 2010 Raventos i blanc "L'hereu Cava" White Blend, Conca Del Riu Anoia, Penedes, Catalunya, Spain Pale gold in the glass with coarse bubbles, this wine smells of tangy mandarin rind and kumquat juice. In the mouth flavors of apple and crabapple have a faint sweetness to them and a charming sappy note that is accentuated by bright acidity. A hint of yeastiness enters the finish. Coarse mousse. 12% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $20. click to buy. 2009 Raventos i blanc "De la Finca Brut Cava" Xarello, Catalunya, Spain Light greenish gold in the glass with fine bubbles, this wine smells of wet chalkboard and brewers yeast. In the mouth savory flavors of toasted sourdough, crapbapple and asian pears mix nicely with a stony underbelly. Velvety mousse and nice acidity. This bottle happened to be marked as a tank sample. Score: around 8.5. 2008 Iron Horse Vineyards "National Geographic Ocean Reserve Blanc de Blancs" Chardonnay, Green Valley, Sonoma, California Light gold in the glass with fine bubbles, this wine smells of wet chalkboard, cold cream, white flowers, and asian pears. In the mouth, bright apple and pear flavors are caressed by a smooth mousse of foam and notes of linalool and wet chalkboard linger in the finish. 13.5% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $35. click to buy. 2008 Iron Horse Vineyards "Classic Vintage Brut Sparkling Wine" Champagne Blend, Green Valley, Sonoma, California Light gold in the glass with medium bubbles, this wine smells of unripe apples and pears with hints of brewers yeast. In the mouth yeasty flavors of baked apple and pears are lifted by a soft mousse across the palate, while stonier notes of wet chalkboard and white flowers linger in the finish. 13.5% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $30. click to buy. NV Schramsberg Vineyards "Mirabelle Brut Rosé" Champagne Blend, North Coast, North Coast, California Light coppery salmon colored in the glass with medium fine bubbles, this wine smells of dried orange peel and berry jam. In the mouth tangy flavors of raspberry, orange peel, and strawberry mix with a faint sweetness on the palate. Good acidity makes the wine quite drinkable. 12.6% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $23. click to buy.
Date: Thursday, 31 Oct 2013 17:23
Old Chap, I miss you terribly. Especially as Guy Fawkes day approaches. It seems like just yesterday that we were slinging firecrackers into the Cherwell off the Magdalen bridge and arguing about the honest virtues of hard cider (I do think the world has come out on my side of the argument, incidentally). But let's to business, for as much as I'd like to regale you with tales of my Yankee lifestyle, the occasion for this letter is rather of a more serious sort. You've no doubt received the missive from those I am ashamed to call my fellow countrymen: the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America, perfectly timed in the wake of your concerns about binge drinking, underage drinking, and counterfeit alcohol. I hope you won't find it patronising for me to shout "Beware!" at this Wolf in sheep's clothing, but the thought that you might, in a moment of weakness, consider the proposition contained in this vile entreaty shakes me to my very core. To call this letter a self-serving pack of lies gives it far too much credit. The sheer gall evinced by these privateering bastards in suggesting that our pernicious three-tier distribution system here in the United States helps to control underage drinking would be laughable if it weren't so insane. I know you're rightfully concerned about alcohol consumption amongst your school-age children, but our rate of underage drinking is nearly triple your own and climbing, whilst yours has fallen considerably in the last ten years. That matter of uncollected tax revenues is vexing I'm sure, but analysis of the many backward states in the grips of our strict three-tier system show that they are missing out on loads of tax revenues due to their over-regulated systems. As for the problem of counterfeit alcohol, I agree that is quite worrying, and certainly putting the control of all alcohol distribution in the hands of a select few companies would solve that problem, but we both know the dangers of concentrating such power in the hands of a few. Remember how much you used to needle me about our telephone system back in the day? I do hope you'll take this message to heart, and if you've still got that infernal piece of paper lying around, you'll burn it forthwith. As I've been penning these lines, I've been somewhat amused to imagine myself a poor modern answer to Paul Revere, except I'm running down High Street yelling, "The Americans are coming, the Americans are coming!" I know we've traded good-natured barbs over the years whilst comparing my great nation to your dying empire, but let me lay my jacket of superiority aside for a moment. I can't think of many things we've fucked up more in my country from a legislative perspective than how we "allow" our citizens to buy alcohol. The last thing you'd ever want to do would be to emulate us in that regard. Do us both a favor, and don't even wait until you see the whites of their eyes before you put a bullet in this whole idea. My best to the missus and all your little ones, who I suppose aren't so little anymore. I hope to be on your side of the pond at some point before we both keel over and start pushing up daisies. Most earnestly, and with great affection, The Yank Image of old envelope courtesy of Bigstock.
Date: Wednesday, 30 Oct 2013 16:24
By Susan Kostrzewa Gloria Steinem once said that writing was the only thing she ever did where she felt she should not be doing something else. Most writers accept that writing, and in particular wine journalism, is a profession and passion that has chosen them, and not the other way around. But at what cost? A recent controlled survey of 20 journalists working in the wine media field revealed that while fulfilling, the wine writing trade was still extremely challenging as regards livelihood. Survey respondents working in freelance and full-time roles in the wine media field answered questions about per-word rates, frequency of jobs, types of projects and other contributing income in the household. Some key points: - The average wine writing income was between $15,000-25,000 a year. - Most were making the majority of their wine journalistic income from traditional print editorial sources (magazines, newspaper). - For freelancers, wine media income constituted between 10-25 percent of their annual income, the rest typically supplemented by additional wine-related gigs such as teaching, lecturing, consulting, judging and in about half the cases, another unrelated full-time or part-time job. In all but three cases they were living in a household with a second income. - The average per-word rate received for their work was 25 cents to $1 a word. Additional research revealed that the median national income for work as a wine editor was $50,000 to $66,000 a year. The good news? As wine and food trends continue to grow in the U.S., the demand for knowledgeable and talented writers and experts in the field grows. But the field is still very competitive, and slow to respond, it seems, to media rate trends on other categories. [Editor's Note: Susan Kostrzewa is the Executive Editor for Wine Enthusiast Magazine. She presided over a conversation and research session at the 2013 Symposium for Professional Wine Writers about how wine writers were compensated for their work. The session was extremely interesting, if a bit depressing, so I asked her to summarize the conversation in a brief article here on Vinography. The following statistics were the result of an anonymous survey of Symposium attendees, a separate survey from the one referenced in the above piece. Please note, the survey referenced above was given to freelance wine professionals already active in the wine writing field, while Symposium attendees were both seasoned professionals and interested parties just starting in the business. The results overall for both still reflect the same trends, however. ] How much do you make annually on your wine writing? less than $5,000: 15% $5,000-$10,000: 22% $10,000-$25,000: 25% $25,000-$50,000: 19% greater than $50,000: 19% Which media types contribute the most to your annual wine writing income? Magazine: 29% Newspaper: 18% Web sites/blogs: 20% Other: 33% What percentage of your overall income is from wine writing? 0- 10%: 29% 10-25%: 18% 50-75%: 21% 75-100%: 33% What is your current per-word rate for wine writing projects? If you are paid by the project, please convert to a similar per-word rate. Less than 25 cents per word: 26% Less than 50 cents per word: 27% Less than $1 per word: 21% $1 a word or more: 27% What category of wine writing represents the majority of your income? Editorial print (magazines. newspapers): 37% Editorial digital media (Web articles/notes, blogs etc): 35% Commercial (promotional, marketing, PR): 28% What other types of writing or work do you do to supplement your income? Other wine editorial/media (wine education, wine tour guiding, etc): 21% Wine trade/service: 29% Food service/retail: 29% Unrelated profession: 22% Image of guy begging with sign courtesy of Bigstock.
Date: Tuesday, 29 Oct 2013 05:53
Winding your way along the German Moselstrasse, tucked in between the curves of the river that the highway mirrors, and the impossibly steep vineyards, the picturesque villages whose names adorn some of the world's greatest Rieslings give the impression of timelessness. When the stately homes whose family names also appear on these labels cozy up to 12th Century churches and cobbled courtyards, you can be forgiven for imagining unbroken lines of winemaking patriarchy stretching back for a millennium, as each father handed the cellar keys to his son through the ages. Certainly, most of the region's famous estates easily fit this description, with names that fill the history books, and forbears whose names were often preceded by honorifics such as Baron and Count. By comparison, the beginnings of the estate known as Dr. Loosen seems a bit more like a scene from Wayne's World, especially when you meet the bespectacled, long curly-haired and voluble Doctor himself. Ernst Loosen was chosen by his father and grandfather to take over the family estate from among his siblings and other members of his generation more by process of elimination than by destiny. Coming back from college at word of his father's illness in 1988, he dragged his best friend Bernie Schug along to help him figure out what to do with his father's "little hobby" that grossed $250,000 a year and carried $500,000 worth of debt. Loosen described the scene a few years later, after he and Schug had managed to figure out where the estate's 19 acres of vineyards were, and how to work all the ancient equipment in the cellar. "My dad said, 'here's the winery, and here's my debt, too'" laughs Loosen. "I studied archeology. Bernie specialized in tropical pig disease. We were old hippies. We got this other guy from Tonga to come with us, and he was great at logistics. He was in college and said that his whole program was paid by the German state to help develop Tonga. He had a great relationship with the King of Tonga and used to organize booze for the king. We all lived together here in the house, and it was a great time. We continued college here. The door was always open. Sometimes I came home at 4 AM and tried to find a bed in this 18-room house without any luck. Friends told friends told friends. There was always a bed, always booze, always a party. Frankly I didn't know who these people were. It carried on that way until I met my wife in 1992. It became a little too much and my wife said 'OK you have four weeks to get everyone out.'" "Then only Bernie was left," continues Loosen, "and my wife said 'What is up with this guy?' and I said 'He's the winemaker!' and she said 'OK, I don't care.' Bernie and me, we're the old donkeys here." Loosen has not lost his reputation for partying, even after forty years. Indeed, several winemakers I know in the U.S. cheerfully warned me off going drinking with Loosen, which they said was a sketchy proposition at best. But if Loosen has kept that reputation, it certainly has not been at the expense of what is now considered to be one of the best and most successful modern German wine estates, a reputation earned, as it were, with an equal amount of perseverance. "In the beginning," remembers Loosen, "with me and Bernie, it was easy. We didn't have any money. We had an idea, but neither of us had been trained. My father was ill, and he was clueless anyway. He always had hired a winemaker." "We developed it fast, we developed it enthusiastic. We were very passionate, very convinced. I wouldn't say we did everything right. In fact, it's better if you get the chance to do things wrong. You have to have your own experience. We learned more every year. I think 1993 was our first break-even year. And things have looked up ever since." The day his father died, Loosen was handed the keys to not one, but two wine estates. One that had been run by his father and grandfather, dedicated to making primarily dry wines, the other that had been owned by his mother's family (who is descended from the famous Prüm family) and focused on sweeter, or as the Germans like to say, "fruity" wines. Neither estate had been particularly well cared for, a fact that turned out to be distinctly to Loosen's advantage. "I'm rather in the fortunate position that neither my father or grandfather ran the wineries as their primary business" says Loosen. "They were tightfisted and never spent a penny on the winery. As you know, the most expensive thing you can spend money on is planting new vineyards. My father and grandfather never planted, and my great-grandfather last planted in 1938. When I took over the winery in '88 the youngest vines were fifty years old." The oldest vines at the time were headed towards 100 years old, and were growing on their original rootstocks, buried deep into the fractured slate that helps them all but defy gravity on the precipitous walls of the Mosel valley. If the vines were two generations old, then so were most of the implements in the cellar, leaving Loosen and Schug to figure out how to make wine the same way they were growing it: the old fashioned way. The pair approached winemaking with the same fervor they pursued the hedonistic lifestyle they had begun in college. "Bernie and me, we'd come out of the bar at 3 AM and go right into the cellar to stop a fermentation," remembers Loosen fondly. Loosen's nostalgia for his beginnings could easily mislead the casual listener into imagining two buddies bumbling their way through the cellar. While that might have characterized their very first harvest, Loosen got serious quite quickly. The student of Roman ruins found something to love in the slippery slate and his rows of vines and there was no turning back. Loosen switched his studies to wine, in the classroom and out. He studied enology at Geisenheim University, and spent several years traveling all over the world tasting wine, and apprenticing with other winemakers in between his own harvests. In the course of that exploration, Loosen realized the treasure that fate had preserved for him in his family's old vines, and set out to build a winery that would showcase these gems to the fullest. Today, Loosen and Schug have expanded the family's acreage from 19 acres to almost 100, making Dr. Loosen one of the largest producers in the Mosel. Loosen makes three blended wines in larger quantities, a non-estate Riesling called "Dr. L," and two estate Rieslings, one made from grapes grown entirely on blue slate, and another from vines in red slate. But the core of the Loosen portfolio are the six old-vine sites from which Loosen makes both dry and sweet wines that are benchmark examples of the form. These sites represent some of the Mosel's most hallowed terroir: Wehlener Sonnenuhr, Ürziger Würzgarten, Erdener Prälat, Erdener Treppchen, Bernkasteler Lay, and Graacher Himmelreich all qualify as the German equivalent of Grand Cru vineyards, or Erste Lage. With the exception of the Dr. L wine, all the wines are fermented with indigenous yeasts, and aged on their lees in massive old oak barrels for at least 9 months before being racked. The singe vineyard wines are aged in old oak for between 12 (for sweet) and up to 24 months (for dry) on the lees before filtration and bottling. Loosen, who has no children, has been working on a succession plan for the estate. "My oldest nephew Daniel FINALLY decided to come into the business," says Loosen. "In Germany, they like to stay in college until they're thirty. I don't blame him. I did the same thing. His first degree is Engineering and Business, but he's doing his masters now in Philosophy. He's going to finish next year, and he can talk, this guy. And drinks like a cow." "He's a bright kid. Not a big spender or someone looking for prestige, and he loves wine. So that means the estate will be in good hands -- someone who honors it and gets it. Of course, he has to go through training. He has to start from the bottom, and work for maybe ten years. Two years at Dönnhof. A year in Oregon. Then he has to work with the distribution company for a year or two. Then two years in China, learning Chinese. Then he has to live there for two years and work the market. Then he has to come back here, work in the bookkeeping department and only then does he get to do winemaking." Loosen grins, and pours another glass full of afternoon sunlight. It's clear he's got no plans to retire anytime soon. "We're in sixty countries now," he muses. "Bernie likes to ask me 'where are we going next, sweetie?'" TASTING NOTES: 2012 Dr. Loosen "Red Slate - Dry - Tank Sample" Riesling, Mosel, Germany Light yellow gold in the glass, this tank sample smells of linalool and pears. In the mouth, the tank sample has a delicate acidity that enlivens flavors of pear and ripe golden apple. The acidity is slightly soft, and white flowers linger in the finish. 12.5% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $15. click to buy. 2012 Dr. Loosen "Blue Slate - Dry" Riesling, Mosel, Germany Light yellow gold in the glass, this wine smells of wet chalkboard, unripe pear, and hints of citrus zest. In the mouth, bright, zingy acidity brings green apple and green plum flavors a bit of bounce on the palate. Nice sour-ish SweetTart flavor on the finish. 12.5% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9 . Cost: $16. click to buy. 2011 Dr. Loosen "Wehlener Sonnenuher Grosses Gewächs Trocken" Riesling, Mosel, Germany Pale yellow-gold in the glass, this wine smells of wonderful white flowers and hints of spicy pear. In the mouth gorgeous white flowers and crushed stones are riddled with gorgeous filigreed acidity, poised and delicate. Made from 80-year-old, ungrafted vines. 12.5% alcohol. 300 cases made. Score: between 9 and 9.5 . Cost: $35. click to buy. 2011 Dr. Loosen "Ürziger Würtzgarten Trocken Alte Reben Grosses Gewächs" Riesling, Mosel, Germany Palest yellow gold in the glass, this wine smells of pears poached in cream with a deep wet chalkboard character. In the mouth pear and a hint of spice mix with exotic citrus and hints of exotic wood. Fantastically bright acidity makes the wine zingy and wonderfully long in the finish. 12.5% alcohol. 300 cases produced. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $27. click to buy. 2011 Dr. Loosen "Erdener Prälat Trocken Alte Reben Grosses Grewachs" Riesling, Mosel, Germany Palest gold in the glass, this wine smells of crushed stones and white flowers with a deep, deep stony nature. In the mouth the wine tastes of liquefied rock scented with pear, white flowers and rainwater. Gorgeous, delicate acidity, perfect balance. The finish is long and clean with a chalky note to it. Stunning. Made from 120-year-old ungrafted vines in red slate. Lightly sweet.12.5% alcohol. Tasted out of 375ml. Score: around 9.5. Cost: $34. click to buy. 2012 Dr. Loosen "Bernkasteler Lay" Riesling Kabinett, Mosel, Germany Palest greenish gold in the glass, this wine smells of white flowers and a touch of honey and linalool. In the mouth, gorgeously bright mandarin and pear flavors burst on the palate and linger with a stony note in the finish. Lightly sweet. 8% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5 . Cost: $23. click to buy. 2012 Dr. Loosen "Erdener Treppchen" Riesling Kabinett, Mosel, Germany Pale gold in the glass, this wine smells of white flowers and ripe pears. In the mouth, beautiful pear and white floral flavors sit poised on the palate while mandarin acidity races electrically around the edges of the mouth, making the saliva glands go into overdrive across the long finish. Juicy, bright and delicious. Lightly sweet. 8.5% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5 . Cost: $25. click to buy. 2012 Dr. Loosen "Wehlener Sonnenuher" Riesling Spätlese, Mosel, Germany Pale gold in the glass, this wine smells of peaches, pears, and honeysuckle. In the mouth the wine has a wonderful weightlessness to it as flavors of honeysuckle, mandarin orange and exotic citrus zest pop and crackle with electric acidity. Poised, balanced and gorgeously long in the mouth. Stunning. Moderately sweet. 7.5% alcohol. Score: around 9.5. Cost: $30. click to buy. 2012 Dr. Loosen "Ürziger Würtzgarten" Riesling Spätlese, Mosel, Germany Palest gold in the glass, this wine smells of wet stone and rainwater mixed with white flowers and citrus. In the mouth bright and juicy acidity makes flavors of mandarin orange, white flowers and hints of ripe apples dance beautifully on the palate. Gorgeous, balanced, and racy, with a very long finish. Moderately sweet. 8.5% alcohol. Score: around 9.5. Cost: $27. click to buy. 2012 Dr. Loosen "Erdener Treppchen - Tank Sample" Riesling Auslese, Mosel, Germany Light yellow-gold in the glass, this tank sample smells of honeysuckle and fresh rainwater. In the mouth gorgeous honey and candied pink grapefruit flavors have fantastic brightness thanks to brilliant acidity. The finish sails on for minutes leaving a pastry cream and white flower essence in the mouth. Stunning. Moderately sweet. 7.5% alcohol. Score: between 9.5 and 10. Cost: $50. click to buy. 2012 Dr. Loosen "Ürziger Würtzgarten - Tank Sample" Riesling Auslese, Mosel, Germany Palest greenish gold in the glass, this wine smells of bright mandarin oranges and there is a hint of peachiness to the wine as with the Spätlese. Gorgeously balanced and light on its feet this wine is all but effortless to drink, sliding across the palate on a golden beam of white flowers and honeyed goodness with a zingy citrus kick that lasts through a long finish. Stunning. Moderately sweet. 7.5% alcohol. Score: between 9.5 and 10. Cost: $50. click to buy. 2012 Dr. Loosen "Erdener Prälat Goldkapsel - Tank Sample" Riesling Auslese, Mosel, Germany Pale greenish gold in the glass, this wine smells of apricots, pink grapefruit and honey. In the mouth gorgeous grapefruit and tropical fruit flavors dance on the palate. Peaches, pineapple, and papaya linger in the finish over stony minerality. Effortless and utterly drinkable. Moderately sweet. 100 cases made. The goldkapsel designation refers to a wine made entirely of botrytized fruit. Score: around 9.5. Cost: $60. click to buy. * * * The wines above would have been an extraordinary tasting on their own, but the good Doctor had one more trick up his sleeve. Someone, it seems, had expressed an interest in Trockenbeerenauslese wines, those made solely from the shriveled raisins left by grapes that have been completely consumed by botrytis. In fact, a fellow journalist traveling with me was busy writing a story on TBAs, and when our hosts, Wines of Germany, made the appointment, they mentioned this fact to Loosen. "So one of you is writing about TBAs, yes?" said Loosen. When my colleague nodded, Loosen stood up and said "Hold on a moment." He returned holding five small bottles. "We make a TBA from the Erdener Prälat vineyard but we've never sold it," he said, gently placing the five bottles on the table. "In fact, we've never opened a bottle," he laughed. "I had this billionaire who wanted to buy some, and I told him he'd have to wait ten years. Then when ten years was up, he came back to me and I said, 'I changed my mind, it's twenty years now'" chortled Loosen as he pulled the cork. "Last year he asked again, and I told him thirty years!" "The wines have never even been labeled, you see," said Loosen, pointing out the smudged laser-printed labels on the bottles. "We make about 100 bottles of TBA from Prälat each year," said Loosen, "one third in full bottles, two thirds in half bottles." The few other TBA wines that Loosen produces are usually sold through special distribution arrangements or auctions, and are snapped up by collectors the moment they hit the market, even at their usual astronomical prices. Without further ado, here are the world's first tasting notes on the Dr. Loosen Erdener Prälat Trockenbeerenauslese Rieslings: 2003 Dr. Loosen Erdener Prälat TBA Riesling, Mosel, Germany Light amber in the glass, this wine smells of smoky honey, apricots, and candied orange peel. In the mouth the wine is voluminous and silky on the tongue. Incredible apricot, peach pie, dried mango, and candied orange peel flavors swirl for minutes on the palate, brightened by intense acidity. Stunning. Very sweet. 5.5% alcohol. Score: between 9.5 and 10. 2005 Dr. Loosen Erdener Prälat TBA Riesling, Mosel, Germany Light orangey-amber in color, this wine smells of dried orange peel and a hint of sawdust from exotic woods. In the mouth this wine is extraordinary. Perfectly balanced between sweetness and acidity. Gorgeous dried mango, candied orange peel, honey, and exotic floral tones soar through a minutes-long finish. Very sweet. 5.5% alcohol. Score: between 9.5 and 10. 2006 Dr. Loosen Erdener Prälat TBA Riesling, Mosel, Germany Dark gold in the glass, this wine smells of dried orange peel, dried mango, and apricots. In the mouth the wine is exceedingly silky and thick in the mouth. Like liquid sunshine, the wine lingers on the palate with stunning flavors of candied orange peel, dried apricot, dried pineapple, honey and a hint of nasturtium. Phenomenal balance, incredible acidity, utterly delicious. Very sweet. 6% alcohol. Score: between 9.5 and 10. 2009 Dr. Loosen Erdener Prälat TBA Riesling, Mosel, Germany Medium to dark gold in the glass, this wine smells of bright fresh apricots and honey, with dried apricots and candied orange peel backing them up. In the mouth the wine is heavy and thick with candied papaya, candied mango, and candied orange peel all swirling in a bright storm of juicy acidity. A stunning minerality still manages to rumble beneath the technicolor fruit. Phenomenal. Very sweet. 6% alcohol. Score: Score: between 9.5 and 10. 2011 Dr. Loosen Erdener Prälat TBA - Cask Sample Riesling, Mosel, Germany A cloudy orange-amber in the glass, this wine smells of candied orange peel, dried mango, and fresh apricots drizzled in honey. In the mouth the wine is exceedingly thick and viscous, with flavors of honey and exotic woods mixed with dried mango and candied orange peel. The finish has a baked apple quality to it with burnt orange peel taking over where the stone fruit leaves off. Excellent acidity, and a faint powdery texture thanks to not having been filtered yet. Fermented for almost 2 years before finishing at about 6% alcohol. Score: around 9.5.
Date: Sunday, 27 Oct 2013 20:32
What would you do if someone offered to hold a tasting of all the best Cabernets in Napa according to you? You'd give them a list, and then do a little dance, and then you'd show up early with bells on. That's not entirely how it went down, but a few weeks ago I was indeed invited to help put on a tasting of many of Napa's top wines for a group of visiting writers, sommeliers, and wine buyers from all over the world. Organized by the Wine Institute, this tasting and the dinner that followed were the penultimate event in a five-day, no-holds-barred tour of California wine that these visitors were experiencing. The Institute asked myself and several of the other wine writers who they had employed as hosts and moderators during the week to submit a list of our "most favorite" Napa Cabernets. According to the Institute, they selected the most commonly chosen bottlings, and put together a tasting, hosted by Master Sommeliers Geoff Kruth and Matt Stamp. Writers Patrick Comiskey, Karen MacNeil, and myself were also present to offer color commentary on the wines and the wineries. We ended up with quite a lineup, and certainly many of the very best Cabernets that Napa had to offer. And apparently enough people mentioned Ridge Monte Bello, so it ended up in there too. There were a few missing from my ultimate Cabernet list (Dominus, Kapscandy, and Araujo, most notably, along with Futo, Heitz Martha's Vineyard, and a few other candidates) but no one, myself included, was particularly complaining about having to spend an evening tasting these wines. As if the superstar lineup of wines wasn't enough, we then proceeded to go to dinner, where another batch of wines was on offer, including a number of older vintages from the same producers, some of which were stunning. So for your educational, and perhaps envy-inducing pleasure, here are my tasting notes from the whole "ordeal." PART I Formal guided tasting. 2009 Silver Oak Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of whiskey barrel and coconut over the top of cherry. In the mouth bright cherry fruit has great acidity, but very drying tannins. Lean and narrow, with sweet fruit and too much wood. 13.9% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $ 95. click to buy. 2009 Corison "Kronos Vineyard" Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena, Napa Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of violets and cedar and forest floor. In the mouth the wine is bright and juicy with cherry and licorice on top of a beautiful deep earthy mineral core. Fabulous acidity and length, not to mention a gorgeous texture. 13.1% alcohol. Score: around 9.5. Cost: $130. click to buy. 2010 Spottswoode Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena, Napa Dark garnet in the the glass, this wine smells of violets, cassis, and tobacco. In the mouth gorgeous, lush black cherry and cassis flavors have supple but very muscular tannins and excellent acidity. Still quite young and somewhat tight, but lip staining and rich. 14.5% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $140. click to buy. 2009 BOND "Pluribus" Proprietary Red Wine, Spring Mountain District, Napa Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of rich cassis and black cherry. In the mouth, deep wet dirt and cassis flavors mix with black cherry and earth. Massive tannins and bright acidity don't distract from the richness of this wine. Fabulous.14.5% alcohol. Score: around 9.5. Cost: $340. click to buy. 2009 Stags Leap Wine Cellars "SLV" Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap District, Napa Very dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of toasted oak, graphite and deep rich dark cherry fruit. In the mouth the wine has a wonderful supple smoothness with gorgeous, muscular tannins, great acidity, and impeccable balance. The wine walks a fine line between elegance and rusticity but with serious class. 13.5% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $90. click to buy. 2009 Shafer Vineyards "Hillside Select" Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap District, Napa Inky purple in the glass, this wine smells of bright cassis and black cherry. In the mouth the wine has a deep cherry and chocolate richness, with thick fleecy tannins and a hint of sweetness to it. Rich, thick, and somewhat blocky today, it is not showing as well as it has on previous tastings. 15.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $240. click to buy. 2009 Harlan Estate Proprietary Red Wine, Oakville, Napa Dark garnet in the get glass, this wine smells of raisins, chocolate, and roasted figs. In the mouth the wine is huge and rich with some alcoholic heat that carries massively rich flavors of cherry and cassis across the palate. Too big..14.5% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $675. click to buy. 2009 Dunn Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Howell Mountain, Napa Very dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of crushed nuts, cocoa powder, and cherries with a hint of pyrazine green bell pepper. In the mouth the wine offers bright flavors of cherry, tobacco, green bell pepper, and earth. It is rich and remarkably generous for its age, as Dunn wines generally need more time to open up. This is stunning. 13.9% alcohol. Score: around 9.5. Cost: $90. click to buy. 2010 Quintessa Proprietary Red Wine, Rutherford, Napa Inky garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cherry, cassis, and wet earth. In the mouth the wine has a wonderful cola quality, cherry and tobacco. A wonderful balance between leanness and richness with good acidity and well integrated oak. 14.5% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $130. click to buy. 2010 Continuum Proprietary Red Wine, Napa Valley Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of rich cherry fruit and hints of tobacco and licorice. In the mouth, licorice, cherry, and tobacco flavors have a wonderful rich creamy quality and bright fruit Character. Wonderfully supple tannins, good acidity and excellent balance. A smooth operator. 14.7% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $160. click to buy. 2007 Scarecrow Proprietary Red Wine, Rutherford, Napa Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of rich cherry and cassis. In the mouth the wine offers juicy cherry, fleecy tannins, rich cassis bright acidity over a deep resonant well of minerality and firmer structure. There's a remarkable mouthwatering juiciness to this wine that is impossible not to love. Yum! 14.6% alcohol. Score: around 9.5. Cost: $750. click to buy. 2009 Diamond Creek "Red Rock Terrace" Cabernet Sauvignon, Diamond Mountain District, Napa Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of beautifully floral violets and cherry. In the mouth the wine is equally, and stunningly floral with flavors of candied violets and cherry That leap around the mouth on the back of excellent acidity. Tough leathery tannins add a rusticity to the wine that is quite charming, and suggest there's a long way for this one to go. 14.1% alcohol. Score: around 9.5. Cost: $160. click to buy. 2010 Spring Mountain "Elivette" Bordeaux Blend, Spring Mountain District, Napa Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of graphite and deep cherry fruit. In the mouth the wine offers bright cherry and tobacco flavors enlivened with a juicy acidity. There's also a stony earthiness underneath the fruit and cocoa powder in the finish which is uncharacteristically showing a little alcoholic heat, despite the wine's quite moderate 13.8% alcohol. Maybe a slightly off bottle. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $120. click to buy. 2009 Ridge Vineyards "Monte Bello" Cabernet Sauvignon, Santa Cruz Mountains Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of the coconut of American oak quite distinctively as a layer over rich cherry and tobacco scents. In the mouth bright cherry and tobacco flavors mix with crushed green herbs a hint of forest floor. Powdery tannins and mellow and quite restrained. While this wine is still showing a little too much of its wood in the nose, it doesn't taste of oak, and with time it will blossom into something even greater than its current stupendous state. 13.5% alcohol. Score: around 9.5. Cost: $160. click to buy. 2009 Dalla Valle "Maya" Proprietary Red Wine, Oakville Inky garnet in the glass, this wine smells quite distinctly of cherry cola. In the mouth rich cola, cassis and cherry flavors mix with notes of chocolate, all wrapped in sweet tannins. Rich velvety, and whole the wine offers a kick of earthiness in the finish. 14.6% alcohol. Score: around 9.5. Cost: $295. click to buy. PART II Wines with dinner. 2003 Diamond Creek "Volcanic Hill" Cabernet Sauvignon, Diamond Mountain District, Napa Dark garnet in the get glass, showing none of its age in the color, this wine smells of cedar, violets, licorice, pencil lead, and well worn leather. In the mouth, the wine is stunningly silky with suede-like tannins that lovingly wrap around gorgeous red berry fruit. Notes of crushed roasted nuts, lavender, and leather swirl across the palate. Fabulous acidity and length. Remarkable and very youthful, yet. 14.1% alcohol. 500 cases produced. Score: between 9.5 and 10. Cost: $175. click to buy. 2003 Corison "Kronos Vineyard" Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena, Napa Medium to dark garnet in color, this wine smells of cassis and cherry, with hints of violets and tobacco. In the mouth the wine is beautifully lithe, with gorgeous acidity and great length. Flavors of cherry, cassis, floral notes, and just a hint of the cedar, mix with the leather and red apple skin of age. Suede-like. Very youthful. 13.8% alcohol. Score: around 9.5. Cost: $109. click to buy. 1993 Spring Mountain "Mirabelle Alba Chevalier" Cabernet Sauvignon, Spring Mountain District, Napa Medium ruby in the glass. This wine smells of pine duff, cedar and cherries. In the mouth, flavors of cherry, cedar, leather are wrapped in elvety tannins with a wonderful minty chocolate and cherry quality that lingers in the finish. Score: between 9 and 9.5. 2006 BOND "Quella" Proprietary Red Wine, Rutherford, Napa Medium to dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of bright cherry fruit and a hint of new oak. In hype mouth the oak is not yet fully integrated, but it doesn't obscure the gorgeous bright cherry fruit brought to life with fantastic acidity. Long lean supple tannins, great finish. Score: around 9.5. Cost: $300. click to buy. 2005 Harlan Estate Proprietary Red Wine, Oakville, Napa Inky, cloudy garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cherry, tobacco, and dark roasted espresso. In the mouth, rich cherry, chocolate, and cigar box spices are enclosed in a fleece blanket of powdery tannins that coat the mouth. Lush and rich and quite pleasurable, though perhaps leaning towards the ripe end of the spectrum. 14.5% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $500. click to buy. 2002 Ridge Vineyards "Lytton Springs" Zinfandel Blend, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma Medium to dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of sweet blackberry, cherry and cedar. In the mouth, the wine is velvety and lush with cherry, raspberry, cedar, and hints of lavender. Gorgeous, bright, long, seamless, lush, drinkable, Yum!!! A blend of 75% Zinfandel, 20% Petite Sirah, and 5% Carignan. 14.4% alcohol. Score: around 9.5. Cost: $42. click to buy. 2010 Scarecrow "M. Etain" Proprietary Red Wine, Rutherford, Napa Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells incredibly lush with bright mulberry, cherry, and cassis fruit. A truly gorgeous nose that makes the mouth water. In the mouth the wine is stunningly bright and juicy with flavors of cherry, cassis, and cola. Velvety tannins, sleek and muscular wrap around this core of fantastic fruit electrified by wonderful acidity. Yowza! And this is the "second" wine of the estate. 14.8% alcohol. Score: around 9.5. Cost: $250. click to buy. 2010 Stags Leap Wine Cellars "Fay Vineyard" Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap District, Napa Very dark garnet in color, this wine smells of bright cassis and black cherry fruit. In the mouth, gorgeous and bright mulberry cherry, and cassis are dusted with hint of new oak. But despite the overt wood, this wine has beautiful acidity and great length. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $80. click to buy. 2011 Orin Swift "The Prisoner" Red Blend, Napa Valley Medium to dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of rich cassis and mulberry fruit. In the mouth the wine is distinctly sweet, with lush cherry, sweet blackberry and mulberry. Faint tannins dust the edge of the mouth and good acidity keeps the wine from being too cloying. Definitely on the sweet side, but so well blended that it's still quite pleasurable, with very little trace of its massive 15.2% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $36. click to buy. 2010 Beringer "Private Reserve" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of rich cherry and mulberry fruit with bright cola notes. In the mouth, cherry, mulberry and cola flavors are bright and juicy with great length. Elegant and refined, but missing a little something in the middle of the wine at the moment. 14.6% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $140. click to buy. 2003 Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of whiskey barrel and coconut sunscreen. In the mouth velvety tannins enclose cherry and coconut flavors. Good acidity but the wood obscures the fruit, which is drying out at this point. Poured from magnum. 13.9% alcohol. Score: between 7.5 and 8. Photos by George Rose, courtesy of the Wine Institute.
Date: Saturday, 26 Oct 2013 04:09
Morning Harvest PASO ROBLES, CA: Petit Verdot grapes are harvested in the early morning hours at J. Lohr Winery near Paso Robles, California. INSTRUCTIONS: Download this image by right-clicking on the image and selecting "save link as" or "save target as" and then select the desired location on your computer to save the image. Mac users can also just click the image to open the full size view and drag that to their desktops. To set the image as your desktop wallpaper, Mac users should follow these instructions, while PC users should follow these. PRINTS: Fine art prints of this image and others are available at George Rose's web site: www.georgerose.com. EDITORIAL USE: To purchase copies of George's photos for editorial, web, or advertising use, please contact Getty Images. ABOUT VINOGRAPHY IMAGES: Vinography regularly features images by photographer George Rose for readers' personal use as desktop backgrounds or screen savers. We hope you enjoy them. Please respect the copyright on these images. These images are not to be reposted on any web site or blog without the express permission of the photographer.
Date: Saturday, 26 Oct 2013 03:51
A Brief Respite HEALDSBURG, CA: Vineyard workers picking Semillon grapes in Knights Valley during the 2012 vintage near Healdsburg, California. Scenes like this have occupied much of California wine country for the past few weeks. INSTRUCTIONS: Download this image by right-clicking on the image and selecting "save link as" or "save target as" and then select the desired location on your computer to save the image. Mac users can also just click the image to open the full size view and drag that to their desktops. To set the image as your desktop wallpaper, Mac users should follow these instructions, while PC users should follow these. PRINTS: Fine art prints of this image and others are available at George Rose's web site: www.georgerose.com. EDITORIAL USE: To purchase copies of George's photos for editorial, web, or advertising use, please contact Getty Images. ABOUT VINOGRAPHY IMAGES: Vinography regularly features images by photographer George Rose for readers' personal use as desktop backgrounds or screen savers. We hope you enjoy them. Please respect the copyright on these images. These images are not to be reposted on any web site or blog without the express permission of the photographer.
Date: Friday, 25 Oct 2013 04:12
One of the longest running wine tasting events in San Francisco is also one of its best. While the city often plays host to really huge public tastings like ZAP, Family Winemakers, and PinotDays, some of the better tastings are more intimate and focused. Both words appropriately describe PinotFest, a low-key event held every year at Farallon Restaurant. Despite practically non-existent marketing or announcement, PinotFest quietly pulls together 60 or so top producers of West Coast Pinot Noir every year for a dedicated crowd of Pinot lovers in San Francisco. This year will be the event's 15th anniversary. Attendees get nibbles from Farallon's kitchen, and access for a few hours to many hard to find Pinot Noirs that often don't appear at the larger public tastings. This year's wineries will include: Alma Rosa, Archery Summit, Au Bon Climat, Bonaccorsi, Brittan, Byron, Calera, Cambria, Chehalem, Cobb, Costa de Oro, Domaine Drouhin, Domaine Serene, Drake, El Molino, Etude, Failla, Fiddlehead, Flowers, Foxen, Freeman, Freestone, Gloria Ferrer, Greenwood Ridge, Handley, Hartford, Hendry, Hitching Post, Iron Horse, Keller Estate, Kendric, Landmark, LIOCO, Littorai, Lynmar, Marimar Estate, Melville, Merry Edwards, Morgan, Patz & Hall, Paul Hobbs, Paul Lato, Peay, Pey-Marin, Ponzi, Radio Coteau, Robert Sinskey, Saintsbury, Siduri, Skewis, Soliste, Soter, Talisman, Talley, Tendril, Testarossa, Thomas Fogarty, Twomey, Whitcraft, WillaKenzie, and Williams Selyem While, at $100, this tasting may be expensive for some, it is only the price of approximately 1.3 bottles from most of these producers, and by far the least expensive way of getting a chance to taste a lot of them in one setting. PinotFest 2013 Saturday, November 23 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM Farallon Restaurant, 4th Floor 450 Post Street San Francisco, CA 94108 Tickets are $100 per person and can be ordered online or by calling 415-956-6969. This event will almost certainly sell out. I recommend arriving exactly at 3:00 PM, wearing dark clothes to minimize spills, eating a hearty lunch ahead of time, and swallowing only a few wines so you can taste a lot more.
Date: Sunday, 20 Oct 2013 05:09
Hello from the bottom of the samples pile. This is the latest installment of Vinography Unboxed, where I highlight some of the better bottles of sample wine that have crossed my doorstep recently. This week's dive into the samples pile yielded a wide range of wines. On the one hand we've got, frankly, a wine that was lost in the cellar for a while, and after a couple of years has yielded remarkable things. At six years of age, this Glen Carlou from South Africa may well be the best $15 bottle of Chardonnay I've ever had. A remarkable accident, indeed. On the other end of the spectrum we've got the 2010 Phelps Insignia, which is all that you'd expect a luxury cuvee to be, albeit with a bit more oak than I'd like. But having tasting any number of past vintages, I can safely say the wine will swallow the wood over time, even though at the moment it's quite the reverse. Star Lane Vineyard / Dierberg makes a decent showing this month, with well made wines that show good restraint, while Adelsheim from Oregon's Willamette Valley offers some excellent wines, in particular, a beautiful Pinot Blanc. All these and more below. Enjoy! 2011 Adelsheim "Bryan Creek Vineyard" Pinot Blanc, Willamette Valley, Oregon Palest greenish gold, nearly colorless in the glass, this wine smells of ripe pears and white flowers. In the mouth, juicy bright pear and lemon rind flavors have a zippy, sour quality that makes the mouth water. Lean and mineral, this is quite refreshing. 13% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $25. click to buy. 2012 Star Lane Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc, Happy Canyon, Santa Barbara, California Palest green-gold in the glass, this wine smells of green apples and white flowers. In the mouth green apple, cut grass, and gooseberry flavors have a night bright crispness to them thanks to excellent acidity. Juicy and refreshing.14.5% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $15. click to buy. 2007 Glen Carlou Chardonnay, Paarl, South Africa Medium gold in the glass, this wine smells of toasted hazelnuts and lemon curd. In the mouth, toasted oak, hazelnuts, lemon curd, and bright lemon peel swirl in a bright, deliciously aged package. This wine has held up remarkably well, and is drinking beautifully. 14% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $15. click to buy. 2011 Adelsheim "Temperance Hill" Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon Light garnet in color, this wine smells of wonderfully dark raspberry fruit and forest floor. In the mouth, dusty, even smoky, forest floor flavors surround dark raspberry and redcurrant fruit flavors. Faint tannins dust the edges of the mouth, and bright acidity puckers the cheeks bringing a light citrusy quality to the finish that is otherwise shot through with wet earth. Lovely. 13% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $68. click to buy. 2011 Ridge Vineyards "Ponzo" Zinfandel, Sonoma County, California Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of blackberry and black pepper. In the mouth, bright black cherry and blackberry flavors have a wonderful lightness to them, and excellent acidity backs them up as faint tannins scratch along the edges of the mouth. Juicy and delicious. 97% Zinfandel, 3% Petite Sirah. 14.1% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $28. click to buy. 2010 Joseph Phelps Vineyards "Insignia" Bordeaux Blend, Napa Valley, California Inky garnet in the glass, this wine smells of bright black cherry and cassis with a hint of espresso. In the mouth, bright and slightly sweet flavors of cherry, chocolate, espresso and new oak mix with notes of cedar and sandalwood. Powdery, mouth-coating tannins wrap around the core of the wine. Luscious fruit, but just a little too much new oak for my tastes at the moment. After 10 years, this wine will be brilliant, but for now, it's too oaky. A blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Petite Verdot, 4% Merlot, and 2% Malbec. 14.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $180. click to buy. 2010 Dierberg Syrah, Santa Ynez Valley, Santa Barbara, California Very dark garnet in color, this wine smells of struck match, white pepper, and cassis. In the mouth, bright blackberry and cassis flavors have a wonderful juiciness to them thanks to excellent acidity. Leathery tannins grasp the edges of the mouth, while smokier notes of black pepper linger in the finish. 14.7% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $34. click to buy. 2009 HH Cellars "Reserve - Robert Andrews - Coyote Canyon Vineyard" Mourvedre, Horse Heaven Hills, Washington Medium to dark garnet in color, this wine smells of bright black cherry, cassis, and notes of vanilla. In the mouth, sweeter flavors of black cherry and black plum are distinctly flavored with oak, whose drying tannins leave the mouth somewhat parched. Excellent acidity and juicy fruit, however, make this a pleasant enough wine to drink, and the oak doesn't totally overwhelm the wine. 14.3% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $?? 2010 Adelsheim "Elizabeth's Reserve" Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon Light to medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cranberry, cherry, and a slightly sharp aroma of ethyl alcohol. In the mouth bright notes of raspberry and cherry have a slightly sharp, bitter edge to them on top of notes of cedar and forest floor. Despite being 13% alcohol, there is a bit of heat to the finish of the wine. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $55. click to buy.
Date: Saturday, 19 Oct 2013 04:33
One of the great perks of having been at this wine writing thing for some time involves my association with the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers, for which I am now a member of its board of advisors (just by way of a disclaimer in advance of the plug which follows). And one of the great pleasures of this association is getting to spend a few days every year attending the convocation that occurs under this association's banner, nestled into the luxurious surroundings of Meadowood Resort in the Napa Valley. I've been to all of these Symposiums in the last nine years, save one, and I can tell you that for anyone who writes about wine, or dreams of it -- or anything in between -- the conference represents an unparalleled opportunity. An opportunity to learn, to practice, and just as importantly, to celebrate wine writing and the people who are passionate about it. This year marks the 10th year of this event, and its lineup of speakers is quite impressive. For three days, attendees of this year's conference will get to hang out with, listen to, and learn from an incredibly talented (and famous) group of individuals, including: Robert M. Parker, Jr., Lisa Perotti-Brown, Eric Asimov, Alan Kropf, Karen MacNeil, Jay McInerney, Sara Schneider, and more. But in addition to such accomplished professionals, there are always a lot of people who are in much earlier stages of their careers, including some who have just begun their journeys as aspiring wine writers. Perhaps one of those people should be you. The main point of this announcement, other than to get fellow wine writers to consider blocking off your calendars in late February, is to make you aware of the fact that the Symposium gives away 10 fellowships each year to aspiring writers. These fellowships cover both the modest cost of attending the Symposium, as well as the cost of lodging at Meadowood, which even at discounted rates isn't negligible. The fellowships are awarded based on quality of writing, and all you have to do is submit your work. The deadline is November 1, 2013. While I certainly can't say that the competition for these fellowships is sparse, I can say that it is not so fierce that the winners are always accomplished wine writers with a lot of bylines on their resumés. For the past two years, I'm proud to say that relative novices, encouraged by this annual posting, have won a fellowship to attend. I've watched magazines get launched from this conference. I've watched amateurs with a few blog posts to their name blossom into serious wine writers that write regularly for major print and online outlets. And I've both watched and participated in the continual renewing of the intimate sense of community that the world of wine writing enjoys in part thanks to this Symposium. And did I mention that the whole thing is catered by the same kitchen that operates the Michelin Three-Starred Meadowood Restaurant? Oh, and don't forget that every meal after 11 AM is flush with wine from the libraries of the Napa Valley Vintners Association. The food and wine alone are worth the price of admission. The week I spend in Napa as a speaker and attendee at this conference is one of the best weeks of each year for me, and I hope you'll consider joining me (and lots of other folks who are more worth getting excited about) at the event, either as a paid participant, or as a fellowship winner. The Symposium for Professional Wine Writers February 18-21, 2014 Meadowood Resort St. Helena, CA The fee to attend is $595 per person, and that will go up to $695 after December 1, 2012. Participation is open to those who write about wine and food in some professional, journalistic capacity, and in any medium. This means that if you make your living, or part of it, doing PR or Marketing writing for wineries or the wine industry, you may not qualify. Fellowship applications are DUE ON NOVEMBER 1 and can be completed using the instructions available on the event web site. Yes, I know, it's a little weird in the digital age to force you to send 5 copies of a story printed on dead trees to enter, but trust me when I say I've complained about this to the proper authorities without much success. I am, of course, happy to answer any questions you might have about the symposium. Hope to see you there.
Date: Friday, 18 Oct 2013 03:42
Following trends in America on any subject can be a recipe for motion sickness. As anyone who has spent time observing what is 'trending' on Twitter can attest, the American zeitgeist ebbs and flows at a rapid clip. But my job is to keep my finger on the pulse of this throbbing artery, and give you a glimpse of what currently engages the minds and glassware of my big country. So without further ado, here is my finger in the wind of the American wine scene. Hyper decanting To call the ridiculous notion of putting one's wine through a blender before drinking a current trend would certainly be over-stating the case, but for all the disdain this barbaric practice has earned among wine cognoscenti, hyper-decanting seems to have captured the whim, if not the imagination, of a certain segment of the wine-drinking public.... Read the rest of the latest buzzwords and trends on JancisRobinson.Com. This article is my monthly column at JancisRobinson.Com, Alder on America, and is available only to subscribers of her web site. If you're not familiar with the site, I urge you to give it a try. It's only £6.99 a month or £69 per year ($11/mo or $109 a year for you Americans) and well worth the cost, especially considering you basically get free, searchable access to the Oxford Companion to Wine ($65) and the World Atlas of Wine ($50) as part of the subscription costs. Click here to sign up.
Date: Thursday, 17 Oct 2013 19:04
A dismal state of affairs Ever since the iPhone was first released, I've been trying apps that are aimed at wine lovers. For the relatively niche market that wine represents, there have been a surprising number of apps trying to address it. There are maps, buying guides, ratings databases, food and wine pairing, cellar management, e-commerce, wine tasting tools, regional guidebooks, and social networks. It sounds ridiculous for me to claim that I've tried every single wine app that is out there on the market, and it's probably not true, but let me tell you, I've tried most of them. And they're all crap. Ninety-eight percent of them either don't offer to do anything truly useful for wine lovers, or, if they do offer to do something useful, they actually don't deliver on their promise. For instance what good is a winery tasting room guide and map of Napa that doesn't have the first five wineries that I search for in their database? How helpful is an app that promises to identify bottles that you take a photo of, but can't seem to get the identification right two out of five times? The other two percent of wine apps on the market might -- and it is impossible to put too much emphasis on that word 'might' -- offer some value, but any hope of doing so is immediately destroyed by completely awful design and usability. Yes, your app might actually have some interesting advice to give about pairing wine and food, but when it takes me five minutes to drill down through a horribly designed menu-tree of foodstuffs to find the thing that I'm looking to cook, no matter how good your content is, I hate your app before I get to it. In short, my professional opinion (and it is worth reminding you that by day I run an interactive design agency that, among other things, designs iPhone applications) is that there is one, and only one wine app that I've ever seen that is worth using, and it is called Delectable. Credit given where credit is due, I hadn't heard about it until Jon Bonné of the San Francisco Chronicle mentioned it to me last year, and he introduced it with much the same sentiment I am sharing right now. But let me explain why, and how, Delectable has managed to pass the ultimate test that any wine app must face: "Will I actually use this thing regularly?" A simple proposition While Delectable is busy building out new features that make a reductionist description of the product somewhat problematic, let's stick with the basics for now: Delectable is Instagram for wine. At its simplest, Delectable lets me take photos of what I'm drinking and share them with others, and I can follow other people and see what they're drinking. While that might seem mildly interesting, its certainly something that could easily be done with Instagram or with Facebook. In fact, that's exactly what many people use Instagram and Facebook for, at least in some small part. But here's what Delectable does for you that neither of those services do: 1. It identifies the wine for you and keeps you from having to type anything in, and it gets the wine right. Provided you take a photo of the label in such a way that the vintage, producer and wine name are showing (or take a photo where you're pointing out the wine on a wine list), after a few minutes, Delectable correctly catalogs the wine. 2. It allows you to rate the wine, provided that you're OK with using the highly sophisticated rating scale of frowny face or smiley face, and make a note about it if you so desire. 3. It lets you discover and follow people in the wine world -- winemakers, sommeliers, wine writers, critics, restaurateurs, retailers, and of course, fellow wine lovers -- and see what they are drinking. 4. In a few simple clicks, it lets you buy any wine you encounter in the app (logged by you or someone else), provided that it is available for sale online. The combination of these four functions, plus seamless integration with most major social networks and a nicely designed interface that allows the content to remain the focus, makes Delectable both easy to use and quite useful. The special sauce But perhaps most importantly, Delectable provides a perfect porthole to one of our most primal urges: voyeurism. The app is actually fun to use because it lets you see what other people are drinking. And not just your wino friends, but people who live, breathe, sleep, and drink wine all day, every day. If you're a serious wine lover, then wouldn't you want to know what the winemaker of your favorite wine drinks when she's not drinking her own stuff? What about the superstar sommelier of that fancy restaurant you love so much but can only afford to eat at a couple times per year? All functionality aside, Delectable is worth using simply because of the people that comprise the application's current user base. They are the who's who of the American wine scene, and increasingly, the global wine scene. In addition to voyeurism, of course, the app also satisfies the need to share, especially for folks like me who are interested in broadcasting my wine adventures to friends and followers alike. Where it came from Delectable was founded by Alex Fishman, who spent time at a company named Palantir before starting this new venture. For those unfamiliar with it, Palantir is one of the companies that has helped to define the current focus on Big Data in the high-tech world, and the company makes its millions by doing things with unbelievably huge and complex databases, often for the Defense Department and other portions of our government. Remember after 9/11, when everyone talked about hooking together all those intelligence databases so we could connect the dots and keep terrorists from blowing us up? Yeah, well that's what Palantir did. I share that information only by way of suggesting that the data systems that underlie Delectable are probably nothing to sneeze at. Indeed, Fishman claims that he has built, and continues to grow, the world's largest and most authoritative wine database. Presumably, the only other person around who could really verify that claim is Eric LeVine of Cellartracker, and to my knowledge, he hasn't yet had the opportunity to look under the hood. Where it's going But entity-relationship diagrams aside, Delectable seems to be building an impressive set of technology services into and around this delightfully simple app. Today the company announced a major partnership with VinTank, makers of VinTank Social Connect, the world's only wine-industry-specific social monitoring software. As part of this partnership, Delectable data (i.e. who is drinking what, where) will appear in VinTank Social Connect for wineries interested in what consumers are up to, and any winemaker or winery owner with an account in VinTank's software can, with a few clicks, get set up to use Delectable as an individual user. Which is to say that Delectable just added potentially another 5000 or so winemakers and winery owners to its list of users, and the wine industry just got a way to find out a lot more about who is drinking their wines and when. Such integrations are probably more interesting to people like me, who spend at least part of our days in the high-tech world of Silicon Valley. But Delectable is busy working on new things that may be of more interest to the average user as well. For instance, a source inside the company told me that shortly they will begin offering wines for sale through the application that cannot be purchased anywhere else. Apparently Turley Wine Cellars is one of the first partnerships that Delectable has struck in this department and soon users of the app will be able to buy a couple of Turley wines that are only offered to their most loyal mailing list customers, including one wine that even mailing list customers can't get: their delightfully retro White Zinfandel. While I couldn't quite pry out of my source exactly what the mechanism will be for making these wine offers to users, I'm tickled by the idea that they might appear like easter eggs, unlocked after you accomplish some oenological feat like drinking a red, a white, and a rosé in a single day. Delectable is already selling an incredible amount of wine through their app. The amount was jaw-dropping to me, but the company isn't quite ready to share it publicly, so you'll have to trust me when I say it's a very healthy revenue stream. If they can become a source for wines that are literally unavailable elsewhere, they will have pulled off quite a coup. In addition to the insights about where the company is headed above, I was also offered a number of additional off-the-record tidbits about what the company has planned. And while I can't share them here, these initiatives and offerings make it clear that Fishman and team are serious about making Delectable the most useful and well-used mobile application for wine lovers around. In a nutshell Is Delectable perfect? Far from it. Despite being well designed, it still contains a few usability flaws, and lacks some basic features that would make it even better. I'd like to be able to manually enter the vintage for a wine if my photo doesn't include it. I'd like a rating system that had a little more granularity. I'd like a few Instagram-like filters for the images. Tagging people is quite clumsy in the app as it stands. But these are fairly minor quibbles. Delectable has gotten the essential things right. At the moment, the user population of the application alone makes it the most interesting wine app on the market. Delectable stands head and shoulders above every other wine app I've ever tried, and it has become as much a part of my wine drinking experience as Facebook has become a part of my social experience. The real question will be whether the company can continue to add features while keeping the app experience simple. And that is no simple feat. If you haven't given it a try, I highly recommend it. And it will be quite interesting to see how the company continues to fulfill its stated mission which is "to make the world a more delicious place." For the record, I have no commercial interest in, nor affiliation with Delectable in any way.
Date: Monday, 14 Oct 2013 14:50
Now is a wonderful, if slightly manic time to be wandering around wine country. Harvest is, for many, complete, and wines are bubbling and burbling their way through fermentations. It's the time of year that wine country really becomes wine country. As the afternoon sun angles low, life gets pretty idyllic around Sonoma, and the timing is good to relax with friends and a nice glass of wine. Which is why, I suppose, around this time of year we are treated to the opportunity to attend The Pinot on The River Festival . Now in its tenth year of providing an intimate and casual way to enjoy some of the best Pinot Noirs from Sonoma county and around the state, this festival is a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Originally a multi-day event replete with tours and winemaker dinners, the event has been scaled back to be simply a walk-around tasting of wine in the beautiful plaza square in Healdsburg, at the heart of the Russian River Valley. While it no longer involves a lot of bells and whistles, the event is still an opportunity to taste a lot of really great wine for not that much money, so I highly recommend it to anyone who loves Pinot Noir, or who is interested in learning whether or not they do. If you're interested in the wines that are poured at the event, here's the list of wineries scheduled to attend. Pinot on The River Festival 2013 Sunday, October 27th 12:00 PM - 4:00 PM Healdsburg Plaza in Downtown Healdsburg, CA 95448 Tickets will run you $75 for the tasting, and if you pay $85 you get early access (an hour to taste without crowds). Buy tickets online here. Who knows what the weather will be like for this event. It could be in the seventies and sunny, or it could be downright chilly, and even wet, so if you're going, make sure to bring something to keep you warm. Dress for the event is casual, and my usual tips for public tastings apply: wear dark clothes, come with a full stomach, drink lots of water, and spit if you really want to enjoy the tasting.
Date: Monday, 14 Oct 2013 14:42
Looking to get your vino fix in San Francisco? Look no further. I've created a map of San Francisco wine bars and the specialty wine stores that can connect you with fabulous wine. Google recently released a product called Maps Engine that allows anyone to create a custom map. I started playing with it, and well, one thing led to another. The scary thing is that this map would have had perhaps five or six pins on it a mere 10 years ago. The explosion in wine bars and wine retail stores in this city has been nothing short of remarkable. By my count we now have 54 wine bars in the city limits. We're now at the point where it's hard to see how they all can stay in business, but as long as they are, there's never been a better time to be a wine lover in San Francisco. Want a wine bar, look for a red star on the map. There are plenty of corner stores, grocery stores, and big-box retailers where you can pick up a bottle of wine for dinner, but why not support the smaller, independent wine stores that focus only on the fruit of the vine? You'll find these stores at the yellow boxes on the map. What are you waiting for? Dive in! And if your favorite wine store or wine bar isn't on the map, let me know by leaving a comment.
Date: Sunday, 13 Oct 2013 00:27
If there is anything that could be described as a fabric of winemaking influence in Napa, it consists of a loose-knit network of shining threads connecting winemakers and wineries. There was a time in Napa when this network consisted of a few bright nodes from which all other connections spread. Icons such as Andre Tchelistcheff and Myron Nightingale were some of the strongest hubs of winemaking influence that spread to populate an entire valley with a next generation of vintners. With each generation, the web of influence has become more diffuse. Still, there are defined constellations of winemakers who owe allegiance to sources of influence that have shaped their evolution of craft. At the center of a cluster of what many believe to be the hottest new winemakers in Napa sit two men: the late vineyard owner George Vare and winemaker Steve Matthiasson. Parsing their individual impacts on the current crop of winemakers in Napa proves to be a tough exercise. Vare, a long-time industry executive gained a passion for the wines of Friuli, and planted a vineyard with Ribolla Gialla before most people in Napa had even heard of the grape. Matthiasson turned those grapes into some of the most exciting wines that Napa had seen in years. With Vare's death this past April, Matthiasson is left as one of the key influencers for where wine is going in Napa. Matthiasson might protest this claim of influence. Indeed, it's not like winemakers such as Dan Petroski of Massican or Matthew Rorick of Forlorn Hope apprenticed at his knee, as many did to the giants of yesteryear. But Matthiasson's leadership, if you can call it that, is more subtle. Simply put, he is the inspiration for many of the new winemakers who are breaking the mold of what has been done in Napa for the past thirty years. Matthiasson has a degree in Philosophy from Whittier College. "I majored in Philosophy because nothing interested me," he recalls. "I didn't realize you could have a career in farming. My relatives were born into farming, but mine was an urban family." Still, wine featured in his life from an early age. "We always had wine in the fridge," Matthiasson remembers with a chuckle, "a box of Franzia. Wine always marked the end of the work day and the beginning of family time. That's how I learned what wine means." But that didn't mean Matthiasson yet knew what to do with his life when it came to choose. "I was working as a bike messenger in San Francisco -- think of me as sort of an early hipster -- and I was spending a lot of time in a community gardening plot when someone told me about U.C. Davis. I didn't know there were such things as 'Ag Schools' and didn't know there was such a thing as international agricultural development. My parents are both anthropologists, so I was interested in that sort of thing." "I thought to myself I'd go to Davis, take classes, learn how to farm, go someplace international and help out the developing world, then come back, buy some land in Arkansas and settle down," chuckles Matthiasson. "Once I got to Davis I got stuck with professor Bill Liebhardt because I was interested in organics and he was teaching Sustainable Agriculture. I confessed to him one day that I wanted to become a farmer and he looked at me and lowered his voice and said, 'You're not going to learn that here. Give anyone on this hall $100k [to start a farm] and they'll be broke in a year. You need to go work on a farm, kid.'" "Well, fuck," laughs Matthiasson. "I was nine months in and didn't know what to do." So he did the thing that most college kids do when faced with existential crises. He talked to his roommate, and found out about an internship down in Merced working in an orchard. That was good enough for Matthiasson and so he took the Spring semester off, packed up, and headed south for two job interviews -- the first for an internship with an agricultural consulting gig (he passed) and the second with the woman who would later become his wife. Jill Matthiasson was working for the Community Alliance for Family Farming, and had created a program focused on helping to build sustainable practices for orchards. The Alliance was partnering with the company at which Matthiasson was interning, and it fell to Jill to find out about the fresh-faced young man they had sent her to help out. Presumably Matthiasson said the right things in his job interview, because not only did he get the job, within a few months he had himself a girlfriend as well. A month after they started dating, Matthiasson returned to his studies at U.C. Davis and the two crushed their first grapes together from the teaching vineyard at the school. That was 19 harvests ago, and Steve and Jill Matthiasson have made wine together ever since. First in their garage, and then later in various rented and borrowed facilities where Steve was working at the time. For many years, the wine was just for them -- a project in which they could involve the whole family -- and the quantities reflected that. Jill continued her work with the Alliance, and Steve plowed himself into his career as a top agricultural and viticultural consultant. Eventually, Steve's work brought him to Napa, and a particularly good contract prompted the whole family to move there in 2002. He quickly built up a book of business consulting on sustainable viticulture for a roster of clients that would turn most heads in Napa: Stag's Leap Wine Cellars, Spottswoode, Araujo, and Chappellet, among others. "One day around harvest he came home from work, just raving," says Jill, "He was going on and on about having best Merlot he'd ever tasted out of a client's vineyard." "I knew we had to make some wine from these grapes," adds Matthiasson, "and that we should sell it. I had another client who would give me enough Cabernet to blend with it, and so we decided to do it." "We had no idea what we were getting into," said Jill. "We had no business plan, nothing." Luckily one of their drinking buddies knew a thing or two about selling wine, and after sampling the results of what was ostensibly their first "commercial" vintage in 2003, said he thought he could sell it. And he did. On the success of that tiny first vintage, and the growing success of his consulting business, the Matthiassons and their two young sons decided to put down roots, snapping up a small parcel of land at the edge of Napa's Oak Knoll district behind a subdivision, with a 1903 farmhouse, a barn, and perhaps most critically, about three acres of neglected old vines and a few fruit trees. "You couldn't even really call them neglected," says Matthiasson. "The technical term was fucked up. The guy who planted this property extracted every last bit he could get from the land." Standing in what is effectively the Matthiasson's back yard, a stone's throw from their house, it is obvious the two have made it their goal to put a lot back into this land. The drainage culvert that runs along the back of their property was originally a mess of weeds, but has now been rimmed with native flowering plants and bushes conducive to insects, in particular, pollinators. Sheep graze the property along with the small pack of chickens, bees hum from a couple of hives, and an raptor box stands waiting for a resident. The vineyard has been replanted or regrafted, beautiful cover crops flourish between the rows, and the slender trunks of new fruit trees dot the edges of the property. Seeing this, it's no surprise to hear Matthiasson talk about how he spends his days setting up integrated pest management for his organic and sustainably farmed winery clients, nor to find out that Matthiasson and his wife also run the Napa Fruit Company, a farmer's market stand offering organic fruits from the valley. Matthiasson's growth as a winemaker has been marked by one key milestone above all others. His work as a consultant brought him in contact with Vare, who has the unique distinction of having planted California's first vineyard of Ribolla Gialla grapes, a variety from Italy's Friuli region. Accompanying Vare on a trip to that region in 2005, Matthiasson had what he calls a "religious experience," in particular when tasting the famed wines of Miani. He came home obsessed with white wine, and focused on evolving his already low-alcohol, high-acidity winemaking to include more texture, more energy, and of course, more Ribolla Gialla, which he promptly began sourcing from Vare's vineyard. Matthiasson began with only two wines, each made in what Matthiasson refers to as the "Platonic ideal." They were, and are, simply called "Red" and "White." Those savvy enough to be on his mailing list over the past decade had access to the wider range of wines that he produced, often in very small quantities. Over time, he has increased production of some of those smaller wines, and now his portfolio officially includes a Merlot, a Cabernet Sauvignon, a Chardonnay from a vineyard that Matthiasson owns on the Sonoma Coast, and a Rosé. Some of his other remarkable wines remain what he and Jill refer to as "passion wines" and sell only to his wine club members and friends. Matthiasson's winemaking is an interesting mix of non-interventionalist, even experimental winemaking (he has a Philosophy degree, after all) coupled with the practicality of someone who makes his living as a consultant. "I'd love to use native yeasts, but we've crushed in 5 different facilities since our first vintage in 2003, so to keep things manageable, I inoculate," said Matthiasson. Temperature control is quite important to him as well, with a distinct preference for lower temperature fermentations. He avoids fining, and doesn't filter his reds, but because he stops his white wines from going through secondary (malolactic) fermentations, he has to filter them. Having said that, Matthiasson also produces a batch of Ribolla Gialla each year that is picked by the kids, crushed by their feet, macerated on whole clusters for three weeks, and then fermented for 18 months in his old barn, with no temperature controls or added yeasts. This orange wine is always a crapshoot, and some years it turns out better than others. This somewhat unpredictable wine aside, Matthiasson's winemaking is remarkably consistent in its almost magical balance between fruit and extremely high acidity, tempered with generally very low alcohol levels. Some of his wines are so fresh and brilliant, they make you gasp when you put them in your mouth. Tasting through his wines on a recent Autumn afternoon, I pressed him to talk more about how he thinks about his winemaking, in particular how he establishes a vision for what each wine should be, and in the process I made a somewhat startling discovery: Matthiasson has synesthesia. "When I listen to music, or do math, or taste things," says Matthiasson, "I see colors. For me, balancing the wine is about balancing the spectrum of colors in the wine when I taste it and smell it. With red wines I'm shooting for the color red, balanced by green and black. For white wines the dominant color is a greenish-yellow-gold." A few minutes of further conversation is enough to convince me that this isn't just a handy metaphor that happens to correspond to the colors of the fruits we use to describe some of wines flavors. Matthiasson actually experiences flavors as visual stimuli. This realization also serves to illuminate a subtlety of Matthiasson's packaging design that I had not fully appreciated in the past. The colors of the silhouetted shears he uses on his labels is carefully chosen to correspond to the colors that he "tastes" in each wine. When I expound on the fact that this fusion of color and other senses is something quite extraordinary, it's clear that Matthiasson is somewhat embarrassed, and he plays it down. But to me it is the perfect explanation for the revelation that Matthiasson's wines continue to be, vintage after vintage. They are simply some of the most unique and special wines being made in Napa each year. For his part, Matthiasson seems to have settled into a comfortable, humble confidence. "We're just trying to make serious, world-class wines. And we never make any decisions based on the expense" he says. "But how's the P&L; coming," I ask. "We haven't looked at it in years," laughs Matthiasson. "We don't even have a P&L; to look at if we wanted to," chimes in Jill. Thankfully, their wines continue to find their way into the hands of those who appreciate them, and those looking for something different in Napa continue to make their way to the old yellow farmhouse behind a Napa subdivision. And perhaps most importantly, Matthiasson continues to inspire more winemakers to strike out in new directions searching for more diversity and distinctiveness. TASTING NOTES: 2012 Matthiasson Rosé of Syrah, Napa Valley, California Pale salmon in color, this wine smells of wet leaves, orange peel, and bee pollen. In the mouth an interesting combination of earth and citrus peel mix with gorgeous bright pink grapefruit pith, crushed herbs, and a hint of candle wax. The wine is long, bright, and utterly savory, with a kick of salinity at the end and a gorgeous minerality that frames the entire experience. Whole cluster pressed and fermented entirely in steel. 12.3% alcohol. Score: around 9.5. Cost: $23 . click to buy. 2012 Matthiasson "Linda Vista Vineyard" Chardonnay, Napa Valley, California Light, bright yellow-gold in the glass, this wine smells of wet chalkboard, lemon curd, and pomelo pith. In the mouth, bright lemon curd, wet chalkboard, pink grapefruit pith, and candied lemon peel swirl in a mouthwatering dance on the tongue. Notes of bee pollen and hints of chamomile linger in the finish. Fantastic acidity. Juicy and delicious. Whole cluster pressed, barrel fermented in neutral oak, and prevented from going through malolactic fermentation. 13.5% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $25. click to buy. 2011 Matthiasson White Blend, Napa Valley, California Light, bright yellow-gold in color, this wine smells of white flowers, Asian pears, and wintersweet blossoms. In the mouth a burst of lemon oil, wintersweet blossom, crushed stones and rainwater crackles on the tongue with an almost electric presence. Unbelievably juicy and mouthwatering, this wine is perfectly balanced between floral qualities, lovely savory notes, and an ocean-air salinity. Dried yellow herbs linger in the phenomenal finish. Simply one of the best white wines being made in California at the moment. A blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Ribolla Gialla, Semillon, and Tocai Friulano. 12.9% alcohol. Score: between 9.5 and 10. Cost: $35. click to buy. 2012 Matthiasson "Ryan's Vineyard" Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley, California Pale cloudy gold in the glass, this wine smells of honeysuckle and dried lemon pith. In the mouth lemon pith, dried lemon peel, pomelo, and kumquat all have a brightness to them thanks to excellent acidity. The wine offers a deep chalky minerality that has an almost ceramic crispness to it. Bright, steely, and delicious. 13.5% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5 . Cost: $30. 2011 Matthiasson "Ryan's Vineyard" Semillon Napa Valley, California Light yellow-gold in the glass, this wine smells of resinous lemon oil, yellow grapefruit, and wet stones. In the mouth gorgeous wet stones, candle wax and lemon oil, all have a lean, stunning angularity to them that is distinct and refreshing. Bright pink grapefruit flavors linger through a long finish. Fantastic acidity and great balance, this wine will age for decades. 11.9% alcohol. Score: around 9.5. Cost: $30. 2011 Matthiasson "Vare Vineyard" Ribolla Gialla Napa Valley, California Light yellow-gold in the glass, this wine smells of lemon, a hint of peach and apricot, and wet stones. In the mouth, bright lemon and a hint of bergamot mix with a faintly tannic, stony minerality, and a long lemony finish. Bright juicy acidity and wonderful balance. 12.8% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5 . Cost: $40. click to buy. 2011 Matthiasson "Matthiasson Vineyard" Ribolla Gialla, Napa Valley, California Cloudy orangey yellow gold in the glass, this wine smells of burnt match, and a hint of acidophilus culture. In the mouth the yogurty lemon orange marmalade quality continues with a very creamy texture and a hint of nut paste. There's a savory olive brine quality to the wine. Fainter acidity, but quite distinctive. Whole cluster pressed, then 3 to 4 months of skin contact with no temperature control. 10.9% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $45. 2011 Matthiasson "Michael Mara Vineyard" Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast, California Light yellow-gold in the glass, this wine smells of lemon curd and wet chalkboard with a hint of cold cream. In the mouth, gorgeously bright lemon curd and lemon zest flavors are beautifully balanced with savory undertones. Stunning crystalline minerality and mouthwatering acidity. Fantastic. 300 cases produced. 14.3% alcohol. Score: around 9.5. Cost: $45. click to buy. 2012 Matthiasson "Tendu" Vermentino, California Pale gold in the glass, this wine smells of wet stones white flowers and lemon. In the mouth bright lemon peel, wet stones, unripe Asian pear and pomelo pith are all juicy thanks to excellent acidity. A touch of Cortese and Arneis are also blended in. Sold in 1 liter bottles with a crown cap. 12.8% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $23. 2011 Matthiasson "Matthiasson Vineyard" Cabernet Franc, Napa Valley, California Cloudy garnet in the glass, this wine smells of crushed hazelnuts and cashews, violets, and cherry. In the mouth gorgeous cherry and nutty flavors mix with violets and wet earth, a hint of green herbs and wonderful powdery tannins. Aged in neutral oak. Excellent acidity. 11.6% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5 . Cost: $55. 2011 Matthiasson "Matthiasson Vineyard" Refosco Napa Valley, California Medium to dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of violets and freshly crushed grapes. In the mouth, leathery tannins wrap around cassis, cherry, and mulberry flavors. Wonderful deep earthy notes counterpoint the bright fruit. Spicy on the finish with a hint of graphite. 12.2% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $45. click to buy. 2010 Matthiasson Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of chocolate, graphite, and a hint of green herbs. In the mouth, the wine is incredibly juicy with flavor of cherry, cedar, tobacco, forest floor, and a hint of tapenade savoriness. Phenomenal acidity and a gorgeous balance between the sweetness of fruit and savoriness of earth make this wine effortless to drink, and totally mouthwatering. 25% new oak. 13.8% alcohol. Score: around 9.5. Cost: $60. 2011 Matthiasson Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of mint, dark chocolate, black cherry and violets. In the mouth, flavors of violets, cassis and black cherry mix with a crushed stone minerality. Notes of crushed herbs and violets linger in the long finish. Stunning acidity and length. No new oak. 13.7% alcohol. Score: around 9.5. Cost: $60. Not yet released. 2010 Matthiasson "Red Hen Vineyard" Merlot, Napa Valley, California Medium to dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cedar and tobacco and black plum. In the mouth the wine is phenomenally juicy, with plum and bright cherry fruit and incredible acidity. As the wine sits on the palate mulberry and even blackberry fruit make an appearance welded to a phenomenal forest floor and cedar quality. A hint of nuttiness lingers on the finish. Wow. One of the most distinctive and pleasurable Napa Merlots I have ever had. 25% new French oak. 13.3% alcohol. Score: between 9.5 and 10. Cost: $80. click to buy. 2009 Matthiasson Red Blend Napa Valley, California Very dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cassis, wood smoke, forest floor and black cherry. In the mouth, smoky flavors of graphite and forest floor mix with licorice, black olive, and deep black cherry fruit. Deep resonant and rich, with savory tapenade quality to it, the wine has a perfect balance between juicy and herbal notes. A blend of 50% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc, 5% Petite Verdot, and 5% Malbec. 13.5% alcohol. Score: around 9.5. Cost: $75. click to buy. 2004 Matthiasson Red Blend Napa Valley, California Very dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cedar and mulberry, strawberry jam and tobacco. In the mouth spicy cedar and plum and powdery tannins mix with chocolate, notes of leather, and sweet redwood bark. Nutmeg makes an appearance in the finish. Tasted from a half bottle that Matthiasson found tucked away in his garage. 14.8% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5 .
Date: Saturday, 12 Oct 2013 04:53
Crushed HOPLAND, CA: A load of Gewurtztraminer grapes is crushed at Fetzer Vineyards near Hopland, California. By most accounts the 2013 harvest has proceeded beautifully, with vintners anticipating another excellent year for California wine. INSTRUCTIONS: Download this image by right-clicking on the image and selecting "save link as" or "save target as" and then select the desired location on your computer to save the image. Mac users can also just click the image to open the full size view and drag that to their desktops. To set the image as your desktop wallpaper, Mac users should follow these instructions, while PC users should follow these. PRINTS: Fine art prints of this image and others are available at George Rose's web site: www.georgerose.com. EDITORIAL USE: To purchase copies of George's photos for editorial, web, or advertising use, please contact Getty Images. ABOUT VINOGRAPHY IMAGES: Vinography regularly features images by photographer George Rose for readers' personal use as desktop backgrounds or screen savers. We hope you enjoy them. Please respect the copyright on these images. These images are not to be reposted on any web site or blog without the express permission of the photographer.
Date: Friday, 11 Oct 2013 19:25
Wines are always a link to our past. At the very least they tell a story of a previous season, capturing in the bottle and in the glass the sum of one circuit around the sun. But there is still more. Wine is also the repository of hopes, dreams, struggles, and levity -- all the humanity that conspires to harness the soil, the weather, and the unruly grape into something delicious. But occasionally, wine can be yet even more. Some wines tell stories and represent a past much deeper and more profound than one, or even several, generations of toil can represent. A select few wines can truly capture human history on the grandest scale, echoing, at least in our minds, with the depth of eons. This is the story of one of those wines. The wine is named Karasi, which in Armenian means "from amphora" and it grows a mere stone's throw from a small cave in a hillside that, for any self respecting wine lover, should be as hallowed ground as the vineyard of Romanée-Conti. In and around this cave, known as Areni 1, lies some of the earliest archeological evidence of large-scale winemaking known to man. The amphorae, sluices, and primitive crush pads on the side of this barren mountain date back more than 6000 years to what scientists believe is likely the true origin of civilized winemaking. If that were not enough, all the DNA evidence we have found points to this region as the place where human beings first coaxed random mutations of wild grapevines into reliable producers -- the parents of every wine grape now known to man. Somewhere in what is now Armenia, the Republic of Georgia, Eastern Turkey, or northern Iran, mankind entered a new chapter in its history. Today, under the same barren, windswept mountains, lies a vineyard whose roots at least metaphorically quest back to that time. Zorik Gharibian was born to Armenian parents in Iran, but grew up in Italy. As an adult he forged a successful career in the fashion industry, and today he lives in Milan, where he collaborates with large brands and department stores to create private labels. Like any good immigrant Italian, he grew up drinking wine. "I don't have a single memory or an epiphany moment of when I realized that I loved wine," says Gharibian. "As far back as I can remember I was always intrigued by wine. But what I loved most at the beginning were the vineyards. I loved everything about each and every vineyard I visited, their beauty, their colors, their smell, the bustle of harvest, the unpredictability of working with nature. I was always romancing with vineyards." Then, fifteen years ago, shortly after the birth of his first child, Gharibian, returned to Armenia. "When I first started visiting I really had no experience with Armenian wine whatsoever," recalls Gharibian. "On my visits I had just tasted some of the local wines available on the market. For curiosity I also visited some of the wineries. Everything was 'Soviet' and the wines had all the basic defects you can imagine." Yet despite this, these visits kindled something in Gharibian. The existence of ancient local grape varieties, however maligned and mistreated, and the deep history of the place coupled with his own heritage provided enough tinder to ignite a dream of making wine in his homeland. The question was, however, how to start? "I realized that there was absolutely nothing going on in Armenia from a winemaking perspective, from which one could learn," says Gharibian. "I knew that if I was to start I only had to take the potential of the terroir, the potential of our indigenous varieties (of which no one knew anything about) and look back and research the country's ancient wine history. Everything else had to be disregarded. We would have to rebuild from scratch." But Gharibian had the funds, and the time to risk on the dream, so he began looking for land. "The only clear requirement I had was that I wanted one large, single, barren plot," says Gharibian. "The aim was to start everything from scratch and not make any compromises. But that turned out to be more difficult than one could have imagined. Much of the land in the likely areas had been divided into small holdings among the villagers. We didn't want to simply buy the plots from the locals, as for many, these plots were their [sole] livelihood." "Anyway it took us over three years to finally find what we were looking for. We eventually found an abandoned village with surrounding land that had not been divided and had not been cultivated mainly because there was no water. But as luck would have it, a huge World Bank project was in the works and water pipes were being built to bring water to these remote areas. And that meant that for the first time these areas could start to be cultivated." "Then," continues Gharibian, "there was the challenge of what to plant. No one really knew much about the indigenous varieties and many were not even interested. Many were convinced that they really had no potential. But I will say that after tasting many, many, bottles of local wines from some of these varieties -- both homemade and what was in 'commerce' in Armenia at that time -- we took the brave decision to go only with Armenia's native varieties. I say brave because looking back, I truly believe that we were brave and perhaps even a little irresponsible. Fifteen years ago there wasn't all this talk or even interest in these off-the-beaten-track wines. We also had no clue as to whether we could make decent wine with these grapes, or if we would be able to sell a single bottle in any market. Then of course there was the challenges of the lack of almost everything from the most basic of machineries to anything that you can imagine that you would need for starting a vineyard which are easily found in most advanced countries, but not in a remote section of Armenia." But such dreams aren't easily diverted by reality's constraints. Early on, Gharibian roped in winemaker Alberto Antonini (formerly of Antinori and Frescobaldi), to whom Gharibian had been introduced by friends. "I started talking to him about Armenia its wine history and the idea I had and it honestly didn't take much convincing," recalls Gharibian. "He was fascinated with the place, the history the indigenous varieties and the potential of the country." Together they painstakingly assembled the equipment, the manpower, and the plant material to establish vineyards on 37 of the roughly 100 acres of land that Gharibian had purchased. Taking cuttings from vineyards they estimated were 80 years old, Gharibian, Antonini, and their viticulturist Stefano Bartolomei planted directly into the rocky, arid soil, which has never seen, and likely never will, the predations of phylloxera. The vineyard lies at 4500 feet of elevation, beneath snow capped mountains, with a view, in the distance, of Armenia's grandest feature, the conical slopes of Mount Ararat. Gharibian and his team selected the grape Areni Noir as their best bet for producing the quality of wine they sought. According to the recently released Wine Grapes, DNA evidence suggests that Areni is an ancient grape variety and most likely comes from a village of the same name that sits close to the border with Azerbaijan, where it is known as Malayi. The vineyard excavation began in 2001, and while the ground was being prepared, Gharibian and his team spent several years planting, breeding, selecting, and propagating what they felt was the best plant material. Luckily, the arid climate offers few threats to wine grapes, other than cold winters. Molds and rots are largely unknown, and so the only treatments required in the vineyard are occasional doses of sulfur to combat the rare threat of powdery mildew. Cover crops tilled into the virgin soil provide all the fertilizer currently needed. By 2006 or so, Gharibian had enough cuttings to fully plant his initial acreage at a density of more than 2000 plants per acre. In 2010 Zorah Winery celebrated its first commercial vintage and harvest: 1600 cases of the wine named Karasi. Made from 100% organically grown Areni Noir, Karasi is made with as much attention to its heritage as possible. The grapes are destemmed fermented with native yeasts in a combination of steel tanks and large clay amphorae buried in the ground. Around 30% of the juice is aged in French oak, and 5% in Armenian Oak. Gharibian was quite firm in his decision to use amphorae. "If you look back in history, the amphorae are an important part of Armenia's winemaking culture," he says. "There are examples scattered all over the country which date back thousands of years, the most famous of which is the Areni 1 cave. Armenia's national state museum is also littered with these amphorae that were used for wine. So it seemed only natural to experiment with something that was so deep rooted in this country. Also strangely enough, we found that aging the wine in these amphorae gave us the best results as compared to steel or barrels. The amphorae, which are buried underground and keep a constant temperature, allow the wine to breath smoothly during the aging process and their small size guaranties good lees contact." Gharibian says that they are currently only using steel tanks in addition to amphorae as a matter of necessity. "We found that even if these were an intrinsic part of Armenia's wine making history the tradition has now almost completely been lost in Armenia. There was a time when entire villages were dedicated to amphorae making but these have mostly disappeared. When we started looking for potters to make these big amphorae for us we found that only a few experts were still around that had the knowledge to build them, but were not able to make them because they didn't have large enough kilns. So now we have started a whole new project. In an attempt to revive this tradition in Armenia we have decided to build a facility dedicated to amphorae making. With the help of the few elderly experts we plan to revive the amphorae making techniques and build the old traditional kilns. We want to bring in young potters who are willing to learn from these few remaining experts and continue the tradition." The wine is not fined, and is given only a very coarse filtering to remove sediment before bottling. Its story alone would make it an interesting wine to drink, but thankfully it is also compelling on its own organoleptic merits, ready to dazzle any palate tired of tasting the same old things day in and day out. Perhaps one of the most remarkable things about this wine is how respectfully it has been made. It would have been all too easy for this rich Italian to waltz into Armenia with his world-class consulting winemaker in tow and to make an "internationally styled" wine slaked with new French oak and polished with micro-oxygenation. Instead we have the pleasure of tasting both the place, and the exotic personality of an ancient grape that most have never heard of. As I was preparing to write up my review of this wine Gharibian contacted me with some exciting news. He had just harvested the first grapes from an old abandoned Areni vineyard high in the remote mountains (5250 feet above sea level), that he believes is more than 200 years old. "It seems that previous generations had planted these vines in these remote and off the beaten track places in order to have some kind of reserve in the case of war and invasion which, as you know, Armenia's history is full with," he wrote me in an e-mail. "Exactly because of their remoteness these vines have managed to survive even the Gorbachev era when all the vineyards in Armenia were uprooted in an attempt to combat the severe drinking problems of Russia! Harvesting these grapes and getting them to the winery is a challenge in itself. I am extremely excited and motivated for all the work ahead and am as determined as ever to create fantastic wines from this incredible terroir!" This second wine will be released in 2015. Gharibian and his wife Yeraz, who has been his partner in this escapade since its beginning, along with their two teenage children, continue to live in Milan and make regular trips to the winery in Armenia, along with Antonini and Bartolemei. Gharibian and his wife also regularly travel to their various sales markets and wine exhibitions around the world. They have a local Armenian winemaker and agronomist, as well as vineyard staff that live full-time near the vineyards. Gharibian's passion for this project seems to have no bounds, and it is gradually pushing fashion aside as the focus of his life, a prospect which he says he welcomes at the age of 47. He will talk animatedly for a long time about every aspect of the project, leaving no doubt at his excitement for what this project has achieved, and what he still hopes it will achieve. "I hope we will be able to make amazing and interesting wines of the highest quality from our indigenous varieties that will excite and raise awareness of Armenia as a winemaking nation," he says. "Hopefully it will also inspire others, so that in the future we will be able to have many fantastic wines from here." Even if no one rises to the challenge, Gharibian has established a window that both looks back into a long forgotten chapter in the ancient history of wine, and simultaneously provides us a view of vistas in the future. It is a profound achievement, and one whose depth will only continue to grow. Full disclosure: I received these wines as press samples. TASTING NOTES: 2010 Zorah "Karasi" Areni Noir, Armenia Light to medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of mulberry and huckleberries. In the mouth strong huckleberry and mulberry flavors have a bright juiciness, thanks to good acidity. Faint tannins hang in the background. The wine is gamay-like, to the extent that it can be compared to a more common variety. Peppery notes linger in the finish. Very nice, and something I'd love to drink. 13% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. 2011 Zorah "Karasi" Areni Noir, Armenia Light, brilliant purple in the glass, this wine smells of smoky mulberry and cassis. In the mouth, the wine has a wonderfully bright cassis and grapey quality (think purple SweetTarts) backed by a fantastic wet campfire - woodsmoke flavor that is quite arresting. Excellent acidity makes the wine juicy and quite easy to drink and powdery tannins lend substance to the bright fruit. Distinctive and unique. 13% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $40. click to buy. Images courtesy of Zorah winery.
Date: Friday, 11 Oct 2013 18:30
I've done a lot of radio interviews, and a few TV interviews since I started tapping away on this keyboard 10 years ago. The nature of such interviews usually involves a focus on sound bytes, and even then, a lot gets left on the cutting room floor. But when I was in New York a couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to sit down with Levi Dalton, sommelier and podcaster, for an hour-long conversation that ranged through the full history of Vinography, and my relationship with wine. The resulting podcast, which just became available today for download in iTunes, is by far the most thorough interview that anyone has ever done with me. You can also listen to the interview streaming from Levi's web site. To the extent you're interested in the guy behind this blog, and how I've ended up where I am, you may find this interesting. Levi and his team asked interesting questions, and it was a great conversation. In the event that you're unfamiliar with I'll Drink to That, Levi's regular podcast, you should check it out. It is by far the most popular wine-related podcast around, and with good reason. I hope you enjoy our conversation.
Date: Saturday, 05 Oct 2013 00:52
I both read and write on my iPad depending on where I am in the world, the situation in which I find myself. I've tried to ensure that Vinography itself is fairly readable via an iPad, but that is not the same thing as being fully optimized for consumption on the iPad. Close to 30% of my readers access Vinography on a mobile device, and of those, 30% are using an iPad, which means somewhere around 1 in 10 of my readers at any given time are using an iPad to read Vinography. That makes sense to me, as I see myself, and others increasingly using the iPad as a content consumption device. In particular, I find myself using an application called Flipboard to read blogs, Facebook, and many other sources of online content that I enjoy. Flipboard recently introduced technology that allows folks like me to turn our content into self-contained Flipboard experiences, and so today I'm happy to announce the availability of the Vinography Flipboard Magazine. More than just a repackaging of Vinography content, the Vinography Magazine includes content that never gets posted to Vinography, including most notably, my favorite articles about wine from around the web. If you are a heavy iPad user, you'll likely find the experience of reading Vinography via Flipboard quite pleasant. And if you've never tried, I hope you'll take a look, as it might change your reading habits forever. To access the magazine within Flipboard, just search for Vinography. I'd love your feedback on this new format.
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