Snooth - Articles Read the opinions of wine professionals en-us Mon, 30 Mar 2015 06:17:13 -0400 Mon, 30 Mar 2015 06:17:13 -0400 Snooth A Salute to Wine in the United Kingdom <p><div><br /> As a UK journalist, and Master of Wine, I discuss, criticise and recommend not the fine wine, the great vintages, the en primeurs, but the everyday, the bargain, the high volume. &nbsp;I taste thousands of wines each year of low, mediocre and good quality, and, within perhaps 80 or 90 tasted at one supermarket or off licence tasting, will find perhaps 10 that I think have some validity and, in some cases, some real excitement. These are often the more expensive wines, within the supermarket ranges, at &pound;12 to &pound;18, but my audience wants to know about the &pound;4.49 ($6.81) Tesco Simply Chenin Blanc, about the Aldi Limoux Chardonnay &pound;6.99 ($10.60) which tastes like a pretty good white Burgundy or Sainsbury&rsquo;s Winemaker&rsquo;s Selection Malbec at &pound;4.75 ($7.20), which you can buy in for a party and everyone will love.</div><br /> <br /><br /> <br /> I do a Friday night drive time radio slot, recommending a couple of wines for the weekend and the hills of Gloucestershire echo with a collective intake of breath if the wines are over a tenner ($15.16). &nbsp;I run <a href=""><strong></strong></a>, which is a simple search for wine offers in supermarkets and off-licences &ndash; my audience likes a bargain. &nbsp;In fact, the QO Forum is full of very involved wine lovers, spending a fair amount on their wine, but give them a voucher code or a three for two and they&rsquo;re filling up their trolleys, grinning broadly. That&rsquo;s the audience I&rsquo;ve built for myself &ndash; I&rsquo;m cheap.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <div><br /> The UK wine market is massively via supermarkets and off licences. Only around 10% of off trade sales are through other channels. &nbsp;And special offers are a big driver for these sales. &nbsp; Each month, the wine offers drop into my inbox and I convert them into searchable data. &nbsp;My tasting notes pick out the worthy wines with a photo but I&rsquo;m also happy to be amusingly vile about something that is embarrassingly below par.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> There was a time when my wine friends (friends who love wine rather than wine writers who are friends) were interested in whether Hardy&rsquo;s Crest was on offer. &nbsp;We were all na&iuml;ve, we thought offers were real, we thought the wine was &ldquo;worth&rdquo; the inflated price and we were getting a bargain. &nbsp;Now we&rsquo;re a little more savvy &ndash; a little more &ldquo;yeh, right, half price&rdquo;. Those of us who are bargain-obsessed (around a thousand people visit Quaffers Offers each week sniffing for wine bargains) still do have our favourites, which we watch out for and then pounce.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Of course, we have discounters - Aldi and Lidl. And, if the price of your wine is slightly more important than the complexity of flavours, pretty much all their wines are good value. &nbsp;Only in the last couple of years have they revved up their wine offering, employing Masters of Wine to choose the wines and inviting the press to large tastings, so that we can judge for ourselves. I have a deep distrust of retailers whose wine buyer was buying frozen peas last year. &nbsp;It isn&rsquo;t just a case of negotiation and procurement, copying the lists of the competition and keeping stock in the stores. &nbsp;A wine list needs to be designed and the wines need to be pushing at the door of innovation constantly.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> It&rsquo;s no longer acceptable to stock just big brand international varieties. In the UK, supermarket wine lists are expanding their geographical and varietal range. &nbsp;Seven years ago, we were seeing the start of a surge in interest in Pinot Grigio &ndash; in my opinion, the wine for people who don&rsquo;t really like wine &ndash; but other Italian whites barely made any appearance. &nbsp;I&rsquo;m embarrassed to report that Pinot Grigio is now the most popular wine varietal in the UK (WSTA Sept 2014). In the early 80s, when I started in this game neutrals like Frascati, Verdicchio and Soave were on every restaurant wine list, then they disappeared. Now, several of our supermarkets have Falanghina, Fiano, Greco di Tufo, some have Pecorino.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> And, while your average Asda and Morrisons shopper is unlikely to be searching out any of the above, both stores do have online wine shops now, which give a little more choice for the discerning wine lover. &nbsp;There is, of course, much more potential to inform and educate online. &nbsp;On Asda&rsquo;s wine blog there&rsquo;s advice &ldquo;If you like Sauvignon Blanc, why not try Rueda&rdquo;. In their Wine Shop they offer three Pinots Grigio, one Fiano and one Pecorino. &nbsp;Morrisons has Vidal Icewine at &pound;33 per half bottle, which just wouldn&rsquo;t have a chance in their budget-conscious stores. But there is a Fiano, alongside the five Pinots Grigio.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> While we think we&rsquo;re moving forward in the all-inclusive, non-snobby, it doesn&rsquo;t matter which school you went to stakes, where we do our grocery shop is still firmly tied to our social class. &nbsp;But there&rsquo;s a recent coolness for the middle-class super mummy in buying everything from Waitrose and M&amp;S but slipping into Lidl for slightly odd items or for the bonkersly cheap prices. &nbsp;We have a cracking web-article called Overheard in Waitrose &ndash; the highest in the national supermarket pecking order. &nbsp; Overheard in Wallingford Waitrose recently: a mum admonishing her two kids for asking for Fanta, declaring loudly: &lsquo;You will have the San Pellegrino orange or nothing at all!&rsquo; or &quot;Yes Darlings, I know you still have chicken pox. But mummy simply must have a Heston Christmas pudding or she&#39;ll be a laughing stock&quot;.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Of course, we aren&rsquo;t laughing at Waitrose, but at ourselves. &nbsp;Waitrose hosts the best press tasting. &nbsp;Over 400 striking and interesting wines. &nbsp;The list has been intelligently put together and if, during the tasting, you ask a tiny question a) your answer arrives in less than a minute and b) you feel as if the PR is probably being beaten to death out on Finchley Road for not including it in the tasting notes. &nbsp;They are super, super professional. Nine Pinots Grigio, one Fiano, Pecorino, two Greco di Tufo and a Roero Arneis.<br /><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Have I invented a new way to judge the UK supermarkets? &nbsp;The PG ratio?</div><br /> </p> Fri, 27 Mar 2015 00:00:00 -0400 article6247 Forbes Couple Continues Rosé Series With World's Most Expensive Pinky James Duren <p>Per and Britt Karlsson are on a mission: to bring ros&eacute; back to the world stage.&nbsp;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Yesterday the wine writers published on Forbes their examination of the world&#39;s most expensive ros&eacute;, an investigation which began with questions some wine drinkers may be asking about the seemingly simple sipper.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;Can ros&eacute; ever be a great wine. Chateau d&#39;Esclans in Provence &hellip; believes it can and sells its ros&eacute; wines at high prices,&rdquo; Britt wrote in the opening paragraph. &ldquo;But isn&#39;t it somehow contradictory for ros&eacute; wine to have this aspiration? Isn&#39;t ros&eacute; an unpretentious, easy drinking wine made for fast consumption? Or can it be both?&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Karlsson asnwered the question with a bit of regional history. &nbsp;She pointed out the pale wine&#39;s fate changed drastically when Bordeaux son Sacha Lichine bought d&#39;Escalns several years ago &ldquo;and announced that he was going to make the world&#39;s best and most expensive ros&eacute; wine.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> What resulted was his pink princess, A Whispering Angel, Karlsson said, which changed the ros&eacute; scene in Provence.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> While the wine has long been perceived as a quick drinker not mean for savoring, Lichine is trying to prove that it can reach more vaunted heights of recognition.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;The prices of his wines are between 15 and 80 euros,&rdquo; Karlsson wrote. &ldquo;So as for the price part he has probably succeeded in making the world&#39;s most expensive ros&eacute;. And yes, the quality is there also.&rdquo;</div><br /> <br /> The method of the winemaker&#39;s master is one of precision and tradition, the article said.<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;The secrets are a wine maker from Chateau Mouton Rothschild, old vines, a fairly large proportion of white grapes, fermentation in 600-liter oak barrels with e individual temperature control and a great attention to quality,&rdquo; Karlsson wrote.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> To boot, the wine has good packaging, she said.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The star child in the Lichine family of ros&eacute;s is the winery&#39;s Garrus, made with grenache and rolle.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;The wine is more golden yellow than pink, it has a full-bodied, rich fruity taste,&rdquo; she wrote. &ldquo;It actually tastes more like a white wine wand it looks like a white wine also when you have it in a your glass.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Karlsson recommends drinking the wine with marinated salmon and lobster rather than pounding it down on the terrace of your summer home.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;A great wine among the world&#39;s top prestige wines? Perhaps not. But certainly very good,&rdquo; she wrote. &ldquo;And it does prove that you shouldn&#39;t jump to any conclusions about the future greatness of ros&eacute; &nbsp;wines.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Photo Credit: <a href=""><strong>Chris Pople</strong></a>, <a href=""><strong>Flickr Creative Commons</strong></a></div><br /> </p> Fri, 27 Mar 2015 00:00:00 -0400 article6256 Great Wine Capitals Opens Up Wine Blogger Throw-Down James Duren <p>You could say the Great Wine Capitals Global Network&#39;s (GWC) &nbsp;2015 wine blogger competition will separate the plonk from the premium.<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The organization, which promotes a network of wine destinations from South Africa, New Zealand, Europe, South American and North America, is now accepting entries for the contest, in which participants must submit one blog post in English which features two photos and a maximum of 1,000 words or a video post with a maximum length of three minutes.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The blogs posts or vlogs must focus on one of three topics &ndash; one of a series of eight cities, one of a series of 10 wine regions, or one of the organization&#39;s Best of Wine Tourism winners from the past three years.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;The winner will receive a round-trip airline ticket form his/her place of residence to Bilbao, Spain, transportation to Rioja, hotel accommodation and meals &nbsp;&hellip; to participate in the Annual General Meeting of the Great Wine Capitals Global Network,&rdquo; the contest website said.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Posts must be written in a personal style detailing &ldquo;an experience, rather than a current news item,&rdquo; the website said. They must be submitted on or before June 30 at 11:59 p.m.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> According to GWC, entries will be posted to the group&#39;s won blog and a winner will be selected based on the &ldquo;originality, style and comments&rdquo; pertaining to the post.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The winner will be obligated to write three blog posts about their experience at the organization&#39;s Annual General Meeting, which will take place Nov. 8-12.</div><br /> <br /> The winning blogger will be promoted on the GWC&#39;s website.&nbsp;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Ken Baldwin, a blogger from website Totally Spain, won the 2014 award and traveled to Mendoza, Argentina, for the past year&#39;s GWC conference.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;Would I go back to Mendoza where I recently visited as a guest of the Great Wine Capitals? Would I recommend it to friends and other travelers,&rdquo; Baldwin asked in the introduction of a post he wrote about his experience at the previous annual GWC meeting. &ldquo;The answer is a resounding yes. Mendoza is a wonderful especially if you love places with an easy pace, good food, friendly locals and great wine.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The Andes mountains provided a marvelous backdrop for his visit, he said.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;I vividly recall the stunning snow-capped Andes,&rdquo; he wrote. &ldquo;They&#39;re hard to forget. I&#39;ve flown over the Pyrenees often and I&#39;ve seen the Himalayas from the air but the Andes are special.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> According to the GWC, submissions can be uploaded on the organization&#39;s website.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Photo Credit: <a href=""><strong>Dani_vr</strong></a>, <a href=""><strong>Flicker Creative Commons</strong></a></div><br /> </p> Fri, 27 Mar 2015 00:00:00 -0400 article6259 Sipping from the Proper Stemware: Experts Give Opinions at Cleveland Wine Week James Duren <p>The wine gods may very well strike you down the next time you pour that delicious pinot into a plastic cup.<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> That&#39;s according to reporter Marc Bona, a reporter who ventured into a glassware seminar at Cleveland Week of Wine to learn about how to get glassy while drinking wine.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;The art of matching appropriate glassware with specific varietals might seem like a marketing ploy to sell high-priced glasses,&rdquo; Bona wrote yesterday. &ldquo;But it serves a distinct purpose.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Fine-wine distribution boss Mary Horn led the seminar, he said.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;When it comes to wine, the most important body parts are your tongue and nose,&rdquo; Bona wrote. &ldquo;At the seminar/tasting, both were put through their paces like a player at the NFL combine.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The first lesson: the vessel from which you drink makes all the difference world.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;Novices &ndash; and those who think we know a little bit about wine &ndash; who believe Solo plastic cups, tasting-room glasses or elegant &hellip; stemware are the same for all wines had their taste buds leap up to protest past injustices,&rdquo; he said.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> According to the story, class participants drank three wines &ndash; pinot noir, syrah and cabernet sauvignon &ndash; from a wine glass and a glass beaker.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;The glass makes all the difference where it delivers the wine to your palate,&rdquo; Horn said during the seminar. &ldquo;If you spent $75 on a cab, don&#39;t you deserve to put it in the right glass?&rdquo;</div><br /> <br /> Bona said the difference in the way wine poured over the tongue according to the glass used was immediately apparent.<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> He described his lingual adventure with the three different types of glasses.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;When tilting back the big-bowl, tulip-lipped Pinot glass, you feel the liquid hit the front of your palate. With the smaller-rimmed Syrah glass the liquid moves quickly to the back of your palate,&rdquo; he observed. &ldquo;And with the towering Cabernet glass, it runs to the sides of your mouth.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Stemware style also affected the way the nose perceived a wine, he said.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;We smelled and tasted Pinot Noir in plastic cup, correct glass and incorrect one,&rdquo; he wrote. &ldquo;In the Pinot Noir the wine&#39;s fruit was at the forefront. In the Cab glass, the wine yielded a harshness, minerals and tannins that weren&#39;t there in the Pinot glass.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Bona said the main focus of the class was very direct: go glass, or go home.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;Aroma from the same wine in each glass varied to some degree. But the plastic cup? No flavors wafting there,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Moral of the story? &#39;Never drink out of plastic.&#39;&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Photo Credit: <a href=""><strong>KimManleyOrt</strong></a>, <a href=""><strong>Flickr Creative Commons</strong></a></div><br /> </p> Fri, 27 Mar 2015 00:00:00 -0400 article6258 More Grapes, Please: Virginia Wine Harvest on the Rise James Duren <p>Yesterday Richmond (Va.) CBS-affiliate WTVR released the results of Virginia Wine Board&#39;s (VWB) 2014 harvest report, in which the organization said last year&#39;s take was up nearly 17 percent from 2013 numbers and was the second-biggest recorded harvest in the state&#39;s history.&nbsp;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The WTVR story included a statement from Governor Terry McAuliffe, who was pleased with the results of this past year&#39;s harvest.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;With sales increasing over the last few years and interest about our wine industry growing along the East Coast &hellip; and other markets, we must plant more grapevines, increase harvests, and produce more wine to meet that demand,&rdquo; McAuliffe said in the article. &ldquo;Doing so will help the wine industry continue to grow and provide more opportunities, especially in rural areas, as we work to build a new Virginia economy.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> According to the VWB, the state&#39;s 2014 harvest yielded 8,039 tons of grapes, up 17 percent over the 2013 harvest of 6,862 tons.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The WTVR story also noted growth numbers for specific groups of grapes.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;(The report) indicated double-digit percentage growth in the number of tons of wine grapes produced in Vinifera, Hybrid and American grape categories and significant growth in non-bearing acres of Vinifera grapes.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Mature vines saw a 2 percent increase in 2014 while non-bearing acreage increased 19 percent over the previous year.</div><br /> <br /> Though the news is positive, the industry feels the pressure to plant more vines to meet the increasing demand to which McAuliffe alluded.&nbsp;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Virginia&#39;s Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd Haymore talked about the intricacies involved in expansion.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;The growth in wine sales is outpacing wine grape production figures and that is a trend that must be addressed,&rdquo; Haymore said. &ldquo;However, grape growing is a unique and labor intensive endeavor that requires the right site selection and investment.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> According to the WTVR story, the industry&#39;s task of expansion is being helped by government funds &ndash; the state&#39;s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development department has given funds and a tax credit was also created specifically for the wine industry &ldquo;to incentivize new production.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> According to the VWB&#39;s report, Albemarle County produced the most wine this past year, followed by Loudoun County and Orange County.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;Sugar levels were somewhat depressed and acidity levels somewhat increased for many,&rdquo; the report read. &ldquo;The consensus, however, was that the favorable weather &hellip; was associated with very high-quality fruit, and great wine potential.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Photo Credit: <a href=""><strong>Adam</strong></a>, <a href=""><strong>Flickr Creative Commons</strong></a></div><br /> </p> Fri, 27 Mar 2015 00:00:00 -0400 article6257 Thai Wine Industry Trying To Find Its Feet Amid High Taxes James Duren <p>Thailand is a tough place for wine.<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> According to an article in the Phuket Gazette, the country&#39;s small wine-drinking community remains so because of limited production and high taxes which make premium wine prices too high for the average wallet.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;While there is a perceived demand in Thailand for the fermented grape, the industry is also metaphorically, and literally, in &#39;ferment&#39;,&rdquo; reporter Patrick Campbell wrote. &ldquo;The Kingdom produces a limited amount of premium wine, not nearly enough to satisfy demand. But the import business is saddled with punitive taxes, making fine wine expensive.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> A 2013 law meant to simplify liquor taxes made luxury wines quite expensive, Campbell wrote. One source told the reporter &ldquo;if the wine costs 10 dollars &hellip; at source, the the importer is &hellip; losing money and needs to increase the price to make a profit. Hence the crisis in Thailand&#39;s premium wine industry for bona fide importers.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The tax system is set up so that many wines are taxed at $10 per bottle, and if the total value of the wine is higher than $20, an additional 36 percent tax is added to the wholesale price, Campbell wrote.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Thai winemakers have used creative strategies to avoid the taxes and provide the country&#39;s oenophiles with serviceable quaffers, Campbell said.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> One solution has been the import of Australian wine boxes, which preserve their contents for up to six weeks making them a relatively good investment for Thai drinkers, Campbell said.</div><br /> <br /> Upon closer inspection, he pointed out, the wine box reveals the aforementioned creativity by Thai producers &ndash; the wine is a mix of imported grape juice and homegrown &ldquo;fruit wine&rdquo;.<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;It means that native fruit juice, readily available and mellow tasting, is blended with imported grape juice,&rdquo; Campbell wrote. &ldquo;The result is a quaffable tannin-heavy wine, a drink more amenable to a local palate that craves sugary beverages. An added bonus is that it not only skips some of those burdensome taxes, but is cheaper to produce.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The odd wine product is a &ldquo;winner all around,&rdquo; Campbell said. It bears the country&#39;s orange customs seal, which means the wine underwent final processing in Thailand.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Wines with a blue customs seal, Campbell said, are &ldquo;vinified elsewhere and imported into the Kingdom.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> While blue-label wines from countries like Australia can guarantee a certain level of pedigree and quality, orange-label wines are a veritable free-for-all, he said.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;In orange-tag Thailand &hellip; no one demands a certificate of analysis, so once an entrepreneur becomes involved, the way is left open for him to do whatever he wants,&rdquo; Campbell noted. &ldquo;A cheap and cheerful outcome? Yes. But there are potential health risks &ndash; a sobering thought.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Photo Credit: <a href=""><strong>Wendy Harman</strong></a>, <a href=""><strong>Flickr Creative Commons</strong></a></div><br /> </p> Thu, 26 Mar 2015 00:00:00 -0400 article6248 Wine Writer Wins “Communicator of the Year” at International Competition James Duren <p>Author Tyson Stelzer continues to write his name in history.<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The prolific wine writer won the International Wine &amp; Spirit Competition&#39;s (IWSC) &ldquo;Communicator of the Year 2015&rdquo; award along with American restaurateur and MasterChef personality Joe Bastianich. Stelzer was recognized this past Saturday at the event&#39;s opening-night dinner in Verona.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;Tyson is a multi-award-winning Australian wine write, author of 14 wine books and a regular contributor to magazines,&rdquo; a press release from IWSC said. &ldquo;Both Joseph and Tyson are worthy winners.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Stelzer responded to the award with gratitude, the press release said.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;It is a tremendous honour to be awarded the &hellip; Communicator of the Year,&rdquo; Stelzer said. &ldquo;Yet as a communicator I am but a voice for the great stories of the world of wine, and the true honour is deserved by those to whom these stories belong.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Stelzer went on to say the award extends the reach of his message.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;Winning this awarded will afford me greater voice to tell the remarkable stories of wine,&rdquo; he said, &ldquo;Particularly of Australia and Champagne, and to further the cause of saving under-age teens from alcohol abuse.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> According to Stelzer&#39;s website, he writes for 13 different magazines, giving him a reach of 4 million readers.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> His IWSC award adds to his trophy case. According to his site, he also won The Wine Communicators of Australia&#39;s 2013 Communicator of the Year award and The Louis Roederer International Wine Writers&#39; International Champagne Writer of the Year Award in 2011.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> He also scored recognition from The Australian Food Media Awards and the Le Cordon Blue World Food Media group.</div><br /> <br /> According to the IWSC&#39;s site, Stelzer was scheduler to give a seminar about the emergence of screw-cap enclosures in the wine world, a topic he covered &nbsp;from a winemaker&#39;s perspective in his 2005 tome, &ldquo;Taming the Screw: A Manual for Winemaking With Screw Caps&rdquo;.<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> In 2013, he published &ldquo;The Champagne Guide 2014-2015: The Definitive Guide to the Champagne Region&rdquo;.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> In an interview this past year with The Australian, Stelzer said he gave up his career as a high school science department administrator to pursue a career in wine.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;I wanted a challenge and an opportunity to be involved in something with a global scale,&rdquo; he said in the interview. &ldquo;I&#39;d been writing about wine for five years part-time and published some books. But going into it full-time was daring.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> He said his background in teaching helped him make the transition to wine write and communicator.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;That background &hellip; was crucial to what I&#39;m doing now as a writer, presenter and critic, teaching in a very different way in a different classroom,&rdquo; he said.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Photo Credit: <a href=""><strong>The University of Queensland</strong></a></div><br /> </p> Thu, 26 Mar 2015 00:00:00 -0400 article6250 Wine Writing Titans Give Tips At California Symposium James Duren <p>Wine writers are coming from all walks of life these days.<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Yesterday, wine writer Mike Dunne published a story in the Sacramento Bee in which he gave his observations and insights about the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers which took place this past month in Napa.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;I&#39;ve been struck by the rising number of aspiring wine writers coming from fields other than newspaper sports departments, which seem to have produced a disproportionate number of practitioners of the craft,&rdquo; he wrote. &ldquo;Today&#39;s wine aspiring wine writers often have science, travel and food writing as a grounding. Some are bloggers. Some are sommeliers. Some already are seasoned wine writers, looking to polish their skills and broaden their marketability.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Dunne talked with several prominent wine writers who attended the symposium, including Master of Wine Jancis Robinson.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Her fellow scribes have a tendency to be a bit too proud.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;People really don&#39;t like us very much,&rdquo; she told Dunne. &ldquo;A certain humility is quite important for wine writers.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Los Angeles Times wine columnist S. Irene Virbila agreed with Robinson, telling Dunne that many wine writers are &ldquo;exclusionary, snarky and off-putting.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> That doesn&#39;t bode well for the writer&#39;s audience, which can be limited only to those who are willing to stomach the snark.&nbsp;</div><br /> <br /> Washington Post wine writer Dave McIntyre said a wine writer should avoid the &ldquo;Don&#39;t you wish you were me?&rdquo; mentality often expressed in wine pieces.<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> That wine writers have a tendency to be out of touch with the average wine drinker is something marketing and consumer researcher John Gillespie discovered, Dunne pointed out.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Gillespie said her ran some studies which showed that &ldquo;wine writers often don&#39;t address subjects that would seem to be of interest to consumers,&rdquo; Dunne said.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The researcher used merlot as an example: it&#39;s a popular varietal in the United States but it rarely makes it into wine columns.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Those disparities are starting to dissolve, however, along with the hierarchical walls which separated ivory-tower wine writing with the average drinker, Robinson said.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Social media and wine websites are making it possible opinions to proliferate, disarming the world of wine criticism.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> For this reason, Robinson said wine writers should focus on a niche in the wine world.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;Find yourself a specialty and sell yourself on that as an authority,&rdquo; she told Dunne.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Photo Credit: <a href=";oe=55AE4E29"><strong>Symposium for Professional Wine Writers</strong></a></div><br /> </p> Thu, 26 Mar 2015 00:00:00 -0400 article6251 A Reverence for Georgia Wines Christy Canterbury MW <p><div><br /> Wine geeks are sometimes told to lighten-up. Wine is &ldquo;just a drink&rdquo;; &ldquo;just a grocery&rdquo;. When it comes to serving whites at 42&deg; F versus 47&deg; F, matching wines to specific glasses and pairing Assyrtiko rather than Sauvignon Blanc with crudo, I agree. However, I suggest you don&rsquo;t tell a Georgian to chill about wine. In this dramatically rugged Caucasus Mountains country, wine is holy. And not just the communion wine.&nbsp;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> </div><br /> <br /> Wine is part of the Georgians&rsquo; sacred trinity, along with the motherland and the mother language. It is so holy, I feared expectorating (or as lightened-up folk say, spitting) at a wine-producing monastery. When I persisted in doing so later on my eight-day trek through eastern Georgia&rsquo;s Kakheti region, I received some disapproving looks.<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> While all wine is revered, those made in qvevri (pronounced kwev-ri) are the most precious. Qvevri are fired clay vessels lined with beeswax that look like super-sized amphora. They are easily 1,000 liters large and are buried in the earth for fermenting and aging wine.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> One of the reasons qvevri wines resonate so strongly with Georgians is that this winemaking tradition dates back 8,000 years. That&rsquo;s a lot of harvests! That&rsquo;s also the reason Georgia is called the &ldquo;cradle of wine&rdquo;, even if neighboring Armenia and Turkey dispute that title.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Modern style wines are made there as well. I like tasting modern wines to see the purer side of local grape varieties. It&rsquo;s a striking contrast that in modern winemaking we generally think of old, neutral vessels as giving a purer grape expression. With qvevri &ndash; whether new or old &ndash; both vessel and winemaking can radically change grape expression.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Georgian wines are beginning to trickle into the US. To encourage the flow, pick up a few today!&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> PS: The two Pheasant&rsquo;s Tears wines were qvevri fermented.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Bagrationi 1882 NV Semi-Sweet Red</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> Apparently mentioned in a later edition of Tolstoy&rsquo;s War and Peace, this legendary sparkling wine house makes many styles. This deeply-colored bubbly based on the native Saperavi has considerable sweetness that is smartly balanced by bright acidity and a touch of tannin. It was my fave!</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Marani 2011 Tsinandali</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> This white blend of 85% Rkatsitelli and 15% Mtsvane is the best-known Georgian wine in the world. At Marani, this medium-bodied wine is fermented in stainless steel then partially aged in oak barrels. Its nose resembles the wet wool and bruised apples of Chenin Blanc along with yellow peaches and straw.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Pheasant&rsquo;s Tears 2013 Chinuri Kartli<span class="Apple-tab-span" style="white-space:pre"> </span></strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> This skin-contact white wine is pale gold. Its nose smells of beeswax, honeysuckle and lemon pith. Medium-bodied with a firmly dry finish, it&rsquo;s a wine for the table rather than aperitivo time. Chinuri means &ldquo;coming from China&rdquo;, but this is definitively considered a Caucasus Mountains variety today!</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Pheasant&rsquo;s Tears 2011 Shavkapito Kartli</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> This unique, charcoal black-colored red shows aromas of mulberries and plum jam along with leathery notes. Its dry tannins and perky acidity make it a bit tight, but that works out well with hearty meat dishes.&nbsp;</div><br /> </p> Thu, 26 Mar 2015 00:00:00 -0400 article6242 Going Old-School: Some Australian Winemakers Embrace “Field Blend” James Duren <p>Getting back your roots is a matter of blending, according to a story this past by The Australian&#39;s Max Allen.&nbsp;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;In our modern world we&#39;ve become obsessed with single varietal wines, where each type of grape is kept separate from the others in the vineyard and the winery &ndash; planted on its own, picked on its own, fermented on its own, bottle on its own,&rdquo; Allen wrote. &ldquo;Once upon a time, though, many vineyards were planted with a mix of grapes.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Known as a &ldquo;field blend&rdquo;, Allen wrote, red and white grapes were picked and fermented together. Certainly out of style in today&#39;s world, Allen noted &ldquo;a growing number of winemakers are once again playing with the concept.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Allen then dove into a series of reviews about Australian field blends, pointing out their uniqueness and strengths.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> He began with Cape Jaffa winery&#39;s Anna Hooper, who makes a mashup called La Lune Field Blend. The wine, Allen said, is a blend of &ldquo;no fewer than 11 varieties including chardonnay, pinot gris, semillon and sauvignon blanc&rdquo; and is wild-fermented in oak and a &ldquo;large, amphora-like ceramic egg.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> While the blend may sound like the stuff of grade-school sugar mongers making suicides from the soda fountain a Burger King, it actually tastes quite good.</div><br /> <br /> &ldquo;It&#39;s a bloody lovely wine, rich and creamy in texture, generously fruity and spicy in flavour, full of a sense of place,&rdquo; Allen wrote, &ldquo;of warm sunshine freshened by sea breezes.&rdquo;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> He then moved on to winery Between Five Bells&#39; 2013 H-Cote, a blend of riesling, nero d&#39;Avola and negroamaro.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;On paper, perhaps, the idea of putting two tannic Italian red grapes &hellip; into the same vat, barrel or bottle as the famously fragrant and crisp German grape, riesling, sounds decidedly odd,&#39; Allen pointed out. &ldquo;But it works beautifully; the white variety lifts the natural perfume of the negroamaro and that scintillating riesling acidity balances the round squishy dark fruit of the nero d&#39;Avola.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> Allen then moved on to winemaker Andrew Margan&#39;s Hunter Valley field blend, 2013 Block 11 Red.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;(The wine) is a blend of shiraz, mataro and tempranillo, grown side-by-side in the same vineyard and fermented together, and is a gorgeous mix of warm wild berries and dusty red earth.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> He concluded his exposition of field blends with Rutherglen-based Campbells Wines&#39; The Sixties Block red.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;Like many field blends, it&#39;s a fabulous celebration of diversity,&rdquo; Allen wrote, &ldquo;and the uniqueness of place.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Photo Credit: <a href=""><strong>picdrops</strong></a>, <a href=""><strong>Flickr Creative Commons</strong></a></div><br /> </p> Thu, 26 Mar 2015 00:00:00 -0400 article6249