Snooth - Articles Read the opinions of wine professionals en-us Mon, 22 Oct 2018 10:16:40 -0400 Mon, 22 Oct 2018 10:16:40 -0400 Snooth The True Link Between Wine and Health Mark Angelillo <p>Wine is people. I&rsquo;m not talking about the people with whom you enjoy wine. Here I refer to the people behind the wine &ndash; those folks we ought to celebrate as the literal fruits of their labor coat our palates. We talk a lot about wine on this site, but I&rsquo;d like to take a moment to express gratitude to the farm workers who work so hard to get the grapes in our glasses.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> In this spirit, I&rsquo;d like to talk about <strong>&iexcl;Salud! The Oregon Pinot Noir Auction</strong>. A group of wineries is Oregon joined together in the early 90s to help provide better access to quality healthcare for vineyard workers. That&rsquo;s one of many things I love about the wine industry &ndash; quality regions always band together to make great things happen.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> &iexcl;Salud!&nbsp;is the only industry fundraiser that both raises funds for and provides healthcare to vineyard workers and their families. I would have loved to attend this year, but sadly, life got in the way. The wineries were kind enough to send me some selections that will be auctioned at this year&rsquo;s fundraiser. Read on for my notes. <strong><a href="">Then click here to place a sealed bid</a></strong>. (Yes, you can bid even if you cannot attend. Tickets for the live November event are sold out.) &iexcl;Salud! to our health.<br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>1997 Ponzi Vineyards</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Brick, cherry red color. Elegant aromas of plum, cranberry, red licorice, mineral earth and dried green herb with hints of crushed flowers and a spiced note of cayenne. Mellow and earthy, this is wise with age but still holds a kick of acidity amidst tart cranberry and sour cherry, strawberry shrub and earthy spice. Tannins still have a good grip on the tongue but let go with a hint of medicine and a creamy textured cherry finish.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2009 Domaine Drouhin Oregon</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Exquisite cherry and earthy mushroom aromas with soft floral character and notes of red currant and red licorice. Gorgeous fresh fruit flavors of cherry syrup, red currant and tart cranberry, fresh berries, a layer of holiday spice, a crispness on the middle of the palate that sustains through to the finish of earth, plum and sticky but pliable tannins, fresh wildflowers and a bit of plum.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2010 Raptor Ridge Winery</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Classic mineral earth and tar streaks open here on the nose with notes of raspberries and strawberries, sour cherry candy and a hint of red licorice. Gentle in the mouth, yet nicely tart with bold acidity and chewy tannins, resinous herb and a plum and wild flower palate, finishing clean with notes of blueberry and cranberry.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Dukes Family Vineyard</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Sweet spice and cherry fruit with raspberry notes on the nose. Tart, candied palate of cherry and watermelon juice with some earthy notes of resinous tar and a soft tart cranberry palate towards the finish. Carries a bit of dried green herb and jolly rancher flavors before ending a bit abruptly with floral notes and grainy tannins.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2013 Winderlea Vineyard and Winery</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Fresh and floral with bold cherry and red currant aromas, sweet spice and pastry notes of blueberry crumble. Delicate and soft palate with full bunches of berries and cherries on the palate, round and expansive yet pulling taut on the mid palate with light cranberry and sour cherry notes in front of perky tannins, candied plum and a finish that&rsquo;s floral and a bit earthy with more red fruit. Very fresh, well made, lively and generous.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2014 Domaine Serene</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Delightfully pure, fruity aromas of ripe cherry and mixed berry, cola spice and red currant preserves. More pure, perfect fruit on the palate, mostly cherry, red currant and a hint of cranberry, enveloping the palate with soft herb and zesty spice, medium tannins and a tart finish of cranberry and sour cherry. This is elegant throughout, with beautiful fruit to start and a smoky, intriguing finish.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2014 Elk Cove Vineyards</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Cool blueberry and cherry aromas with plush and round fruit character, light floral aromatics and zippy spice. This is zesty and bright on the palate, immediately fresh with full acidity and a clean fruit forward palate of red currant and cherry, medium body and quaffable. Tannins grip the front of the palate and hang on with good length through to a finish of licorice, more ripe cherry and lots of baking spice.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2014 Stoller Family Estate</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Juicy, concentrated and powerful fruit aromas of plum, blueberry and black cherry, inviting and pure. On the palate this is fruit forward, round at the core and well structured with plum and pomegranate notes, tart sour cherry, mixed berry pastry and perky acidity throughout. Elegant and delicate yet still assertive, well made and rich, with a finish that pulls up clean and light with hints of resin and spiced earth. Lovely.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2016 Cristom Vineyards</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> A bit of heat, a bit of pepper, and warm black cherry and black currant fruit on the nose - notes that are smooth and even and inviting. Tart on entry and very direct, this pours forth with plum, cherry and black currant preserves, continues delivering through the mid palate with creamy cranberry and baking spice, and finishes strong with a spiced bite, bold acidity, earthy tar and textured, chocolate mousse flavors.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2016 ROCO Winery</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Floral and earthy aromas with fresh cherry fruit and a streak of tar and warm heat. Warmly spiced and full bodied with a zesty mouthfeel of acidity and medicine, fresh fruit flavors of cherry, mixed berry and cola, raspberry and plum skin towards the finish of melted dark chocolate ganache and blackberry preserves.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Click here to place your sealed bid now.</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> </p> Fri, 19 Oct 2018 00:00:00 -0400 article7076 This New Zealand wine icon continues to dazzle. Mark Angelillo <p>If you are new to New Zealand wines, this is the historic winery to know. And if you&rsquo;re already in the know, there&rsquo;s a good chance this winery is a favorite. Villa Maria is New Zealand&#39;s most awarded winery for a reason.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> See that picture? It&#39;s Marlborough at sunset, overlooking one of Villa Maria&#39;s stunning vineyard plots. Villa Maria Founder Sir George Fistonich started the winery with just five acres of leased land in Auckland. Fifty years later, Villa Maria is an icon, synonymous with quality New Zealand wines. And Sir George is still involved in the winery&#39;s daily operations. His past and present efforts are largely responsible for the international rise of New Zealand wines.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Villa Maria has identified the best plots&nbsp; across multiple regions (Auckland, Gisborne, Hawkes Bay and Marlborough), showcasing New Zealand&rsquo;s vast quilt of soils and terroir. I had a chance to chat with Villa Maria winemaker Kat Jankowiec about these nuances as we tasted through a set of six Villa Maria wines. The set pulls from the latest vintage. It demonstrates Villa Maria&rsquo;s wide range and skill. What&rsquo;s more, <a href=";utm_medium=email&amp;utm_source=all&amp;utm_content=86400"><strong>the set is available here at a promotional rate</strong></a>. Secure your six pack and <a href=";utm_medium=email&amp;utm_source=all&amp;utm_content=86400"><strong>watch the virtual tasting with Kat here</strong></a>. Read on for a review of each wine in the six pack.<br /> </p> Thu, 18 Oct 2018 00:00:00 -0400 article7074 The Next Go-To Red is Austria’s Zweigelt Mark Angelillo <p>These days, Austrian Zweigelt is no stranger to wine lists. Sommeliers at the trendiest restaurants and wine bars in major cities arm themselves with Austria&rsquo;s shining star. While Zweigelt is grown in a few other places (like Japan and British Columbia, for example), the grape truly is synonymous with Austria.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Its recent surge in popularity (plantings have grown by fifty percent since 2000) is astounding, but not surprising. Zweigelt is one of the most agreeable red wines you will experience. Alcohol levels are low to moderate, and the fruits are bright and friendly. They can be young, fresh, upbeat wines for everyday drinking. They also can be barrel-aged show stoppers &ndash; a newer phenomenon just starting to take hold. The zippy, exuberant red and purple fruits are palate pleasers for red and white wine drinkers alike. Indeed, Zweigelt undeniably is the red wine for white wine drinkers.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Winemakers across Austria are experimenting with Zweigelt in new and exciting ways. Join me for a deep-dive into this fun and fruity varietal.<br /> Zweigelt is an ingenious cross between two indigenous Austrian varietals, Blaufr&auml;nkisch and St. Laurent.&nbsp; Varietal Blaufr&auml;nkisch can be gamey and spicy with high acidity and bright fruits. Varietal St. Laurent can be notably aromatic with fine, silky tannins and dark berry fruits. The two in combination yields something quite special, with facets of each grape contributing to a greater whole.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> &nbsp;In 1921, botanist Fritz Zweigelt founded a grape breeding station at Klosterneuburg, a research and technology institute just outside of Vienna. He wanted to create a grape that would resist vine diseases and produce generous yields. His first big success came in 1922 with Rotburger. Its name was a portmanteau of rot (red) and Klosterneuburg (the Institute). The grape remained fairly unknown until 1956, when growers noticed how well it weathered a particularly harsh winter. It was renamed Zweigelt in 1975, to honor its creator.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Zweigelt is a friendly and consistent wine. The initial wave of cherry red fruits ride in on a unique blend of spices &ndash; cinnamon, violet, and a distinctive floral note. The grape retains its signature aromas from bottle to bottle. I am also pleased to report Zweigelt is available in the United States at fantastic values.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Here is a shortlist of some favorites I had the opportunity to taste. The full list of wines from this tasting can be found <strong><a href="">here</a></strong>.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Nieder&ouml;sterreich</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Let&rsquo;s start with three bottles that fall in the Nieder&ouml;sterreich designation. Nieder&ouml;sterreich, or Lower Austria, encompasses 28,145 hectares of land. It is the country&rsquo;s largest wine growing area. Two hundred and sixty kilometers of the Danube River cut right through the Nieder&ouml;sterreich. The river valleys are breathtaking. They set the stage for superior grape growing.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Forstreiter Zvy-Gelt Zweigelt Nieder&ouml;sterreich 2013</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> This family has been making wine since 1968. Vineyards are located in the Kremstal, along the right bank of the Danube River, across from the Wachau. The wine brings expansive, generous fruit with lots of floral notes - ripe juicy red berries and cherries, fresh spice and a touch of savory earth. Bright and juicy on entry with a tart and tarry, thick streak of tannins and earth welling up on the mid palate, violet petals and dark plum, blueberry notes and a finish of licorice and herb. It&rsquo;s a true steal at roughly eight to twelve dollars per bottle. 90 pts.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Johannes Zillinger Velue Zweigelt Nieder&ouml;sterreich 2015</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> This wine is Biodynamic and Demeter certified. Like many Austrian producers, the Zillinger grapes are farmed in accordance with the rhythms of nature. The yeasts are native. Nice depth, floral aromas of raspberry and cranberry with earthy mineral notes adding another dimension. Tart, perky red fruit flavors of astringent cranberry, red currant and raspberry, this is refreshing and easy drinking, with surprising depth and a pleasant chewiness from the tannins towards the floral finish. It&rsquo;s available for around twenty dollars. 90 pts.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Weingut&nbsp;Br&uuml;ndlmayer&nbsp;Zweigelt Langenlois 2015</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Grapes used in this wine come from vineyards that once belonged to Fritz Zweigelt himself. It matured in oak casks for twelve to twenty-four months. It&rsquo;s one of my favorites in this tasting, and well worth the twenty to thirty dollars investment. Cheery cherry and raspberry compote aromas with a floral hint, a touch of chalk and pencil shavings. Medium-high acidity, tart focused fruit notes of cherry, cranberry and red currant with a bold tarry core that turns resinous towards the finish. This is generously fruited and coats the mouth nicely but finishes clean. 92 pts.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Hugl Zweigelt Ros&eacute; Nieder&ouml;sterreich 2017</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Clocking in around ten dollars per bottle, this ros&eacute; of Zweigelt is perfect for your Thanksgiving table. Light, lightly citrusy aromas of tart grapefruit, cherry and cherry blossom, strawberry and honeysuckle. A bit effervescent and lively on the palate this carries tart cherry and plum skin flavors, fresh strawberries, cut flowers and bright acidity. It&rsquo;s a bit candied towards the finish with a bit of citrus and herb at the very end. 90 pts.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Carnuntum</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> The next three wines hail from the Carnuntum region, a smaller section of the Nieder&ouml;sterreich. Ancient Romans settled the area, and many of their remains are still visible today. Two hundred and thirty-two of Carnuntum&rsquo;s eight hundred and eighty hectares of vineyards are planted with Zweigelt. The varietal thrives in the region&rsquo;s gently rolling slopes. The region&rsquo;s skilled winemakers pay close attention to the wide array of microclimates available to them in Carnuntum. The Zweigelt tends to be grown at higher elevations. Soils vary from fossil limestone to loess and clay.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Artner Zweigelt Klassik Carnuntum 2016</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Fresh pie filling aromas of raspberry, strawberry and cherry with hints of cinnamon and moist earth. On the palate this starts out with a pop of acidity and a burst of fruit sweetness - cherry, red currant and raspberry. On the mid palate this opens up with structure and finesse, floral notes of blueberry and a creamy texture. Finishes clean and light with more fruit and earth. Well-made and elegant. 91 pts.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Netzl Rubin Carnuntum Zweigelt Carnuntum 2015</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> The Rubin was created in 1992 by Carnuntum winemakers. It was created to honor the region&rsquo;s recent separation from Donauland and establish a unique identity. Rubin wines are 100% Zweigelt with at least 12.5% ABV and aged in barrels for at least six months. Smoky, rich vanilla and cherry-raspberry aromas with chocolate and baking spice, the smooth and mellow aromas are inviting and warm. Spiced and smoked with lots of dark black fruit on the palate, chewy tannins and a creamy texture, toasted oaky notes and a dark chocolate finish that carries a bit of red cherry glaze that brightens the tips. Intriguing wine - good for lovers of oak. 90 pts.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Netzl Zweigelt Classic Carnuntum 2016</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Pleasantly soft and floral aromas of cherry and strawberry. Clean and direct on the palate with good varietal character, smoky and tart notes of cranberry and raspberry with deep fruit and full body, enveloping spice and a finish of chocolate cherries and refreshing acidity. This has a touch of medicine and bitter herb on the mid palate that adds some depth and character and finishes with gripping tannins and more smoke. 89 pts.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Burgenland</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Now we move to the East with two selections from the Burgenland region. Red vines here thrive in the limestone, schist, and clay soils. Zweigelt tends to be found in the hills, on the outskirts of Lake Neusiedl.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Anita and Hans Nittnaus Blauer Zweigelt Burgenland 2015</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Dark, rich and brooding aromas of mineral earth, barnyard and toasted spice, fruit notes of black currant and black cherry, some floral notes and dusty, resinous sawmill aromas. On the palate this is juicy and playful, with medium acidity and notes of plum and cherries, blueberry and cranberry, a floral note alongside baking spice and a pine sap and herb finish that&rsquo;s warming and pleasant. The thirteen to seventee dollar price point is a good bet. 91 pts.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Paul Achs Zweigelt Burgenland 2015</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Paul Achs spent some time growing grapes in Sonoma. He brings those sensibilities to the family winery back in Burgenland. Tart cranberry, cherry and raspberry fruit aromas with moist savory earth notes and a bit of light mushroom. Soft and juicy on entry with lots of red fruit and floral notes, this pushes towards tart cranberry and bold acidity towards the mid palate - this is generous and assertive yet stylish and approachable, finishing with blueberry, strawberry and zesty spice. 90 pts.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Biokult Zweigelt Pinot Noir Burgenland 2017</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Zweigelt can be found in red blends, but I was most impressed by its union with Pinot Noir. Intriguing and alluring aromas of lightly floral cherry, fresh spice and warm earth, this is elegant and richly fruited. Tart on entry with impressive delivery of ripe red fruit notes of cherry and raspberry, this turns a bit tarry with some bitterness on the mid palate, a hint of cola, toast and forest floor, resin and a finish of cranberry and more cherry.</p> Tue, 09 Oct 2018 00:00:00 -0400 article7066 Take another look at German white wines. Mark Angelillo <p>German Riesling is a go-to pour for novice and expert wine lovers alike. It&rsquo;s a wine (one of very few) that bridges generation gaps. Millennials are sipping German Riesling with their parents &ndash; and their grandparents, too.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> But our zeal for German Riesling can be blinding. There are a ton of terrific German white wines out there that we tend to overlook. I get it &ndash; Riesling can be distracting. It is that good. The signature aromas and flavors on a dry German Riesling make palates sing. But here&rsquo;s the thing:<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Germany is producing a bunch of fantastic white wines from a variety of varietals. And they are available in the United States at mind-bogglingly accessible price points. &ldquo;Are you sure you don&rsquo;t want to charge more for this?&rdquo; is the question I&rsquo;m often asking retailers after trying one of their German bottles.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> There are few wine producing nations that can put together <strong><a href="">a pack of four world-class wines for under fifty bucks</a></strong>. I sampled this pack with Los Angeles-based sommelier/wine director Matthew Kaner during <strong><a href="">our most recent virtual tasting</a></strong>. Members of the wine media joined in as we tasted through four different German white wine grapes. (Yes, we did include a Riesling.)<br /><br /> <br /><br /> There&rsquo;s a lot to unpack in German wines these days. Here we go, grape by grape.<br /> </p> Fri, 05 Oct 2018 00:00:00 -0400 article7069 Female Winemakers are Making Waves Michelle Williams <p>Becoming a multi-award winning winemaker takes hard work and dedication. Add strength, moxie, intelligence, and class and you&rsquo;ve got Virginia Willcock, Vasse Felix chief winemaker since 2006. Outspoken about low intervention winemaking and passionate about expressing terroir in every sip, Willcock has elevated Vasse Felix, Margaret River&rsquo;s founding wine estate and benchmark for the region&rsquo;s Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, to a world-class winery.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> I sat down with Willcock at TexSom last month. She explained that her passion for winemaking began as a teenager as she witnessed her parents&rsquo; and friends&rsquo; joy in harvesting their own small vineyard. &ldquo;The greatest days of my childhood were on that farm&rdquo; said Willcock, feeling the beauty of nature and the connection of the fruit to the vines. &ldquo;As a child, I witnessed wine making people happy, it&rsquo;s like magic juice,&rdquo; she shares.<br /> With her father&rsquo;s encouragement, she pursued winemaking at university, where she learned about technical winemaking. But she says it is people who taught her how to make wine. She especially credits James Healy, former chief winemaker at Cloudy Bay, for guiding her toward the beauty of natural winemaking.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Willcock diverges from trends by making natural wine in her own style. &ldquo;We are not trying to make something the world wants; we are trying to make what our history and land provides,&rdquo; she explains, adding, &ldquo;Trying to make a wine constructed to the human palate is bollocks.&rdquo; Further, she told me, &ldquo;The reason I love wine is because it&rsquo;s different from every part of the world and it expresses itself naturally. This doesn&rsquo;t mean it has to be dirty, oxidized, or Bretty. These flaws can be controlled while still making a natural product, explains Willcock, adding &ldquo;The more natural we become in winemaking the more we see where we are from.&rdquo;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Willcock pours this philosophy into every wine she makes. She embraces the microbiology of the vineyard and seeks to capture it through native yeast fermentation and minimal use of sulfur. Through investigating the vineyard, she learned the soil operates as the digestive system. Upon this realization she led the charge at Vasse Felix to change their philosophy of winemaking to match the organic farming practices of the vineyards. &ldquo;Some rely on technology to choose clones, rootstock, etc. We went through that as well, but through trial and error we kept ending up where we started &ndash; our heritage clones,&rdquo; she explains. The pre-phylloxera Bordeaux cutting is &ldquo;unique, beautiful, and defines our wines,&rdquo; according to Willcock.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Vasse Felix wines are closed by screw caps. Puzzled by the closure debate, Willcock shares, in her honest style, &ldquo;a screw cap is the same as a great cork. If the wine goes into the bottle in the right condition only the cork can screw it up. With a screw cap if you don&rsquo;t like the wine blame me &ndash; I am the one who bottled it in the wrong condition. Don&rsquo;t blame a secondary piece of equipment I bought to close the bottle.&rdquo; Willcock shapes her winemaking technique to align with the closure and avoid reduction. By giving the wine enough oxygen in the winemaking process she says it should be just where she wants it by the time it is bottled. Meanwhile, she&rsquo;s constantly experimenting, playing with fermentation, vessel size, and material. Her next frontier is native fermentation for their Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, seeking to discover the largest reductive vessel that can be used with native fermentation.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Willcock likes to push the boundaries of Chardonnay. In university she learned wine should be polished, clean, and bright. Wisdom taught her to challenge these ideas. &ldquo;Texture in white wine is beautiful. Chardonnay does not like full skin contact, clean juice, oak fermentation, and full malolactic fermentation. It prefers dirty juice, wild fermentation, and occasional malolactic fermentation if the acidity is too high,&rdquo; she shares. Willcock expresses Margaret River through her Chardonnay.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> I tasted two Vasse Felix Chardonnays: The 2016 Margaret River Chardonnay is a decadent, mid-weight wine. Intense notes of ripe orchard fruit, grapefruit, pineapple, creamy lemon curd, butterscotch, and toasted oak are wrapped in crisp acidity that provides structure and elegance. The 2016 Heytesbury Chardonnay is dazzling. This wine represents top performing blocks from the top vineyards. The tension between the ripe stone, tropical, and orchard fruit and the savory notes of smoke, toast, flint, and salinity is palpable on the palate. It is a joy to drink now, but will increase its reward with further aging.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Willcock crafts Vasse Felix Cabernet Sauvignon the same way, low intervention, low sulfur, and wild yeast fermentation. She says their Cabernet does not smell like anywhere else in the world. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s a Cabernet for Italian wine lovers,&rdquo; she said, indicating a rustic quality. Willcock explains Vasse Felix is by far the most prominent winery using wild yeast fermentation for red wine in Western Australia.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> I found the 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon to be elegance personified. Black fruit, cassis, dried savory herbs, dusty cocoa, cracked pepper, dried roses, and a touch of forest floor dazzle the nose and follow through on the palate. Rich, bold, and wild, a gorgeous Cabernet that will benefit from age to further integrate. I&rsquo;m in love.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Willcock is paying it forward. When she got her start, only 10% of winemakers in Australia were women. Today that number has risen to 50%, but with a high rate of attrition. She explains she was in a class full of boys, but never saw herself as different. She laughingly claims to be missing the part of her brain that cares if she is different. Her strong nature sends a signal that she is not to be messed with. &ldquo;I have never felt intimidated by a man in the wine industry and never felt I did not get a job because I am a woman,&rdquo; she says.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Many young female winemakers seek to intern with Willcock. She shares, &ldquo;When they arrive they are quiet mice, but leave as strong as an ox because I give them freedom.&rdquo; Willcock believes her relaxed nature offers unspoken permission to these young interns that being themselves is okay. She wants them to relax and enjoy learning to make wine.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Vasse Felix wines reflect the bold, elegant individualism of their winemaker. Willcock says she herself is still learning and discovering; adding, &ldquo;The more I know, the more I realize how much I don&rsquo;t know.&rdquo; However, &ldquo;I love it and I couldn&rsquo;t imagine doing anything else.&rdquo;</p> Tue, 25 Sep 2018 00:00:00 -0400 article7070 Expert Recipes for Wine Lovers Christina Pirello <p>I come from an Italian family of true food lovers. It seemed to me that every moment we celebrated, mourned, discussed, or marked was centered around a feast.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> As I grew, the passionate way my family communicated (translation: yelling) proved to be too much for me. I was deemed &ldquo;sensitive&rdquo; or &ldquo;delicate&rdquo; because the noise of their boisterous conversations and debates would leave me jittery and nervous. I noticed, though, that none of that drama crossed the threshold to the kitchen. In that fragrant room, people cooked and worked in perfect harmony, telling stories, sipping wine, laughing, smiling, sharing tips and ideas. No one was allowed to argue, cry or create havoc in the kitchen. &ldquo;Take it outside&rdquo; was the refrain should any &ldquo;senza senso&rdquo; (nonsense) find its way into the room.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> I asked my father to build me a step stool so I could reach the counter to learn more by watching and helping my mother, and I have never looked back from the stove. To this day, the kitchen is precious; cooking is my job, but I love every second of my time in this room. Here are some pairings I love with recipes from my new book, <a href=""><strong>Back to the Cutting Board</strong></a>.<br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Candied Parsnip and Carrot Tatin</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Pairs With: <a href=""><strong>Nero D&rsquo;Avola</strong></a> from <a href=""><strong>Sicily</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> This pretty cake is a splendid sweet and savory side dish.&nbsp; Smothered in caramelized, sweet root vegetables, and topped with an orange-scented glaze.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Makes 6-8 servings<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Savory Cake:<br /><br /> 2 &frac12; cups whole wheat pastry or sprouted whole wheat flour<br /><br /> generous pinch sea salt<br /><br /> 2 teaspoons baking powder<br /><br /> 2 teaspoons sesame seeds<br /><br /> 1 teaspoon baking soda<br /><br /> 2 teaspoons sesame seeds<br /><br /> 1 teaspoon dried basil<br /><br /> 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed<br /><br /> Generous pinch sea salt<br /><br /> 1/4 cup avocado or extra-virgin olive oil<br /><br /> 1/2 &ndash; 1 cup unsweetened almond, oat, or soy milk<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Topping:<br /><br /> 2 teaspoons avocado or extra-virgin olive oil<br /><br /> 4 small carrots, halved lengthwise<br /><br /> 4 small parsnips, halved lengthwise<br /><br /> Organic soy sauce, to taste<br /><br /> 4 tablespoons brown rice syrup<br /><br /> Grated zest of 1 orange<br /><br /> Juice of 1 orange<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Preheat oven to 350&deg;F. In a medium bowl, combine the dry flour, baking powder, sesame seeds, baking soda, basil, rosemary, and sea salt and mix well. Set aside.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Begin the topping: Heat the oil in a 10-inch ovenproof skillet (I like cast iron for this recipe) over medium-high heat. Stir in the carrot and parsnip halves, season lightly with the soy sauce, and stir until shiny with oil. Arrange the vegetables in a decorative pattern, covering the bottom of the pan. Add the brown rice syrup, and orange zest and reduce the heat to medium. Cook until the glaze reduces is thick and syrupy and the veggies are golden brown, about 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally so you can feel the glaze thicken. Remove from the heat and add stir in the orange juice. &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Mix the oil into the dry cake ingredients, and then slowly add stir in the &lsquo;milk&rsquo; until a smooth, spoonable batter forms. Spoon the batter evenly over the cooked vegetables, taking care not to disturb your pattern. Bake for about 35-40 minutes, until the center of the cake springs back to the touch. Cool the cake for about 10 minutes. Run a sharp knife around the rim of the skillet to loosen the cake. Place your serving platter over the skillet and carefully invert the cake. If any of the vegetables stick to the pan, simply remove them and replace them on the cake top. Serve warm or hot.&nbsp; &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Fried Tofu with Black Bean Sauce on Scallion Pancakes</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Pairs with: <a href=""><strong>Vernaccia</strong></a> from <a href=""><strong>San Gimignano</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Calm, cool tofu comes together with dramatic, spicy beans to create a centered focus, with vitality to burn. Dishes like this make you &ldquo;simmer,&rdquo;, so your energy doesn&rsquo;t fail you.&nbsp; Served over a simple scallion pancake, this dish is a meal on its own.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Makes 4-5 servings<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Scallion Pancakes:<br /><br /> 1 cup whole wheat pastry or sprouted whole wheat flour<br /><br /> 1/4 teaspoon sea salt<br /><br /> 1/2 teaspoon baking powder<br /><br /> 1/4 teaspoon sea salt<br /><br /> 1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons avocado oil, divided<br /><br /> &frac12;-2/3 cup spring or filtered water<br /><br /> 3-4 scallions, finely minced<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Fried Tofu:<br /><br /> 1 pound extra firm tofu, 1-inch cubes<br /><br /> Avocado or sunflower oil, for frying<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Black Bean Sauce:<br /><br /> 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil or avocado oil<br /><br /> 1 jalapeno pepper, diced; do not seed<br /><br /> 1 red onion, diced<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> organic soy sauce<br /><br /> 1 cup winter squash, finely diced<br /><br /> 1 cup fresh/frozen organic corn kernels, fresh or frozen<br /><br /> Dash organic soy sauce<br /><br /> 2 cups cooked black turtle beans<br /><br /> spring or filtered water<br /><br /> 2-3 fresh scallions, thinly sliced, for serving<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Prepare the pancake batter by combining the flour, salt and baking powder, and salt. Use a pastry blender or two knifes to cut in the oil until the mixture resembles coarse sand. Slowly mix in the water to create a thin (but not runny) pancake batter. Fold in the scallions. Cover and let the batter rest for 15 minutes before proceeding.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Meanwhile, cube tofu and pat the tofu cubes dry. Heat about 1/4-inch oil in a deep skillet and shallow fry the tofu until golden brown on all sides. Drain on paper and set aside.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Prepare the black bean sauce by heating the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Saut&eacute; the jalapeno and onion with a pinch of salt for 1 minute. Add the winter squash and corn, with a splash of soy sauce and saut&eacute;&rsquo; 1-2 minutes more. Mash half the beans with a fork or potato masher and mix in with balance of cooked beans. Stir beans into the skillet with the remaining beans. Season lightly with soy sauce and add a small amount of spring or filtered water. Stir in the fried tofu cubes.&nbsp; Cover and simmer over very low heat for 5-7 minutes while you make the scallion pancakes. &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Make the pancakes: Pre-heat oven to 200&deg;F. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil. Drop tablespoons of batter in the hot oil to make 3-inch pancakes. Cook until golden brown, turning once to brown both sides. Transfer the pancakes to a baking sheet and then to a warm oven while making the balance of pancakes. You should be able to make 8-10 pancakes.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> To serve, place 2 pancakes each on 4-5 individual plates. Top generously with tofu and black beans. Sprinkle with scallion slices and serve hot.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Cook&rsquo;s Tip: Use seasonal vegetables, so I to vary this dish. In summer, swap out the winter squash for zucchini or yellow squash.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Apple-Cranberry Crisp</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Pair with: <a href=""><strong>Prosecco</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Sweet and tart fruit covered by a tender, cakelike topping is one of the most wonderful, homey desserts. Easy to make, delicious, and beautiful, you get it all with this one. Baking the fruit gentles its simple sugars, and the topping gives you the satisfaction of flour without eating too much of it. The tart flavor of the cranberries balances the sweet apples perfectly. I love to serve this with a cold glass of sparkling prosecco to make any evening a bit more festive.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Makes about 8 servings<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Fruit filling<br /><br /> 3 to 4 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced<br /><br /> &frac34; cup unsweetened dried cranberries<br /><br /> 1 tablespoon avocado or extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the baking pan<br /><br /> 2 tablespoons arrowroot powder<br /><br /> 2 tablespoons Suzanne&rsquo;s Specialties brown rice syrup<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Topping<br /><br /> &frac12; cup rolled oats<br /><br /> 1 cup whole wheat pastry or sprouted whole wheat flour<br /><br /> &frac12; cup rolled oats<br /><br /> 1 teaspoon baking powder<br /><br /> 1 teaspoon ground allspice<br /><br /> &frac12; teaspoon ground ginger<br /><br /> 1/8 teaspoon sea salt<br /><br /> 1 teaspoon baking powder<br /><br /> &frac12; teaspoon ground ginger<br /><br /> 1 teaspoon ground allspice<br /><br /> &frac14; cup avocado or extra virgin olive oil<br /><br /> &frac12; cup Suzanne&rsquo;s Specialties brown rice syrup<br /><br /> &frac14; cup avocado or extra-virgin olive oil<br /><br /> About &frac12; cup unsweetened almond, soy or other non-dairy milk<br /><br /> &frac12; cup coarsely minced pecans<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Preheat oven to 350&deg;F (175C). Lightly oil a 9-inch &ndash;square baking dish.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Make the filling: Mix the apples and cranberries with the oil until coated. Stir in the arrowroot and brown rice syrup and spread evenly in the prepared pan.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Make the topping: Combine oats, flour, salt, baking powder, spices, and sea salt in a medium bowl. Mix in the brown rice syrup and oil to make a soft dough. Slowly mix in in the &ldquo;milk&rdquo; to make a thick, spoonable batter. Fold in the pecans.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Spoon the topping, by dollops, over the surface of the fruit, covering it almost completely, but allowing some fruit to peek through.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Bake about 30-35 minutes, or until fruit is bubbling and topping is golden and firm. Serve warm.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em>Christina Pirello, MFN, is one of America&rsquo;s preeminent authorities on a healthier lifestyle utilizing natural and whole foods.&nbsp; Christina studied and became an expert in Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda, acupuncture, macrobiotics and earned a Masters Degree in Nutrition. Utilizing her internationally-respected TV show &ldquo;Christina Cooks&quot; and her many books she is: &ldquo;Changing the Health of the World One Meal at a Time.&rdquo; She has authored seven cookbooks on the subject of healthy eating and natural living. Her newest cookbook, &lsquo;Back to the Cutting Board&rsquo; is due out in September, 2018 and is designed to re-inspire our love of cooking.</em></p> Wed, 19 Sep 2018 00:00:00 -0400 article7067 The Return of Fall Cooking, Weeknight Style Mark Angelillo <p>I spend a lot of time dissuading my toddler from eating Play-Doh. However, I always reserve some energy for preparing meals to pair with the perfect wines. For my purposes, the meals must be simple, efficient and nutritious. I hit each of these points by adhering to a few general rules. Rule number one: Make-ahead. Many dishes benefit from &ldquo;macerating on the skin,&rdquo; to borrow the winemaker&rsquo;s term, and new flavors can be revealed with time spent in the fridge. Rule number two: Don&rsquo;t use a second pot unless it&rsquo;s truly necessary. Rule number three: Use frozen vegetables. They are quick and easy. Some will argue that the frozen stuff contains more nutrients than the fresh.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Enough with the rules. Let&rsquo;s crunch some leaves under our feet and get started.<br /> <strong>Salmon Cakes with Greens</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> These cakes were made to freeze and reheat. Keep the fresh greens on hand. While this recipe calls for a nice saut&eacute;, I don&rsquo;t see why you can&rsquo;t bake the cakes instead. <a href=""><strong>Get the recipe</strong></a>.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Recommended Wine:</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> How about an English sparkler? Snooth columnist <a href=""><strong>John Downes MW</strong></a> got me thinking more about these a few years ago and I&rsquo;ve been hooked ever since.&nbsp; I think we could stand to see a few more imports here in the United States. Here&rsquo;s a few that you actually can get pretty easily:<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Ridgeview Brut Bloomsbury England NV</strong></a><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Hattingley Brut Rose Hattingley Valley England NV</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Campfire Couscous with Zucchini and Pine Nuts</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> You probably still have zucchini on hand. Couscous is one of the quickest cooking grains I know (around ten minutes), and pine nuts add some decadence to an otherwise simple dish. <a href=""><strong>Get the recipe</strong></a>.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Recommended Wine:</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Here I would choose a Soave &ndash; it&rsquo;s still an underappreciated value white wine, but I have seen its availability grow since we started Snooth back in 2007. The wines are light-bodied, refreshing, slightly acidic, mellow, with hints of lemon, white flowers, honeydew melon. Try this widely available option:<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Pieropan Soave Classico 2016</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Deviled Cauliflower Casserole</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Cauliflower is the latest cruciferous vegetable darling. Cauliflower crust pizza, cauliflower brownies, cauliflower rice pudding &ndash; the list continues. When it comes to flavor, cauliflower may be the world&rsquo;s most malleable vegetable. This is a great make-ahead casserole for the heat lovers in your life. Tune the devil to your liking. <a href=""><strong>Get the recipe</strong></a>.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Recommended Wine:</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> There&rsquo;s some heat here, so why not break out a sweet wine? It may be taboo for some, but pairing a sweet wine with spice and salt is an eye-opening experience. I still love this bottle from last year&rsquo;s <a href=""><strong>Sweet Bordeaux virtual tasting</strong></a>.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Haut Charmes Sauternes 2015</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Classic Tomato Soup</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Soup is back, and tomatoes are still on tap. Raid the last licks from your garden or go straight to the can.&nbsp; However, this soup cannot stand alone. <a href=""><strong>Classic grilled cheese</strong></a> is imperative. You can get creative with <a href=";entity=recipe#action=search&amp;query=grilled%20cheese&amp;hide_state=1&amp;country=US&amp;myzip=10010&amp;entity=recipe&amp;cuisine=American&amp;dish=Sandwiches&amp;store_front=0"><strong>some of these grilled cheeses</strong></a>, too.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Recommended Wine:</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Master Sommelier Laura Maniec</strong></a> has described Garnacha as the perfect wine for Thanksgiving simply because it will pair with every dish under the sun. Grilled cheese and tomato soup is a pairing in itself. I wouldn&rsquo;t want the wine to disturb this balance. Easy-going Garnacha will be a perfect, fruity complement.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Las Rocas de San Alejandro Calatayud Garnacha 2014</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Mushroom and Chile Tacos</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> While I do enjoy DIY-style taco nights (a scoop of this, a plop of that&hellip;), the planned taco can bring comfort. Your decision has been made. Just sit down and eat.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Caveat emptor: Mushrooms must be handled with care. They hold a lot of water, and the last thing you want is a soggy taco. Be sure to cook the mushrooms down &ndash; especially if using the frozen kind. <a href=""><strong>Get the recipe</strong></a>.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Recommended Wine:</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Tempranillo will teach you a thing or two about tannins, not to mention dark luscious fruits. I was very impressed by this one from the Santa Ynez Valley.&nbsp; It&#39;s 84% Tempranillo buttressed by Syrah (8%), Grenache (4%) and Merlot (4%), aged for nineteen months in American oak barrels. This is a thoughtful wine from a great winery.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Longoria Tempranillo Santa Ynez Valley 2015</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> </p> Wed, 12 Sep 2018 00:00:00 -0400 article7062 The Must-Visit Wine Region Full of Surprises Michelle Williams <p>I spent my first afternoon in Pfalz strolling through the quaint village of Deidesheim. It is classic Germany &ndash; story book houses, window boxes overflowing with colorful flowers, and a welcoming fountain surrounded by cafes in the town square. As this was my first visit to a German wine region, I assumed I would be enjoying a bounty of Riesling (presumably with an abundance of sausage and sour kraut) all week. I was wrong. Pfalz is a dynamic region full of surprises &ndash; most notably a tension between tradition and modernity.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> A quarter of all vineyard plantings in Pflaz is Riesling. But the dynamic winemakers in Pfalz make great wines from a wider variety of grapes than anywhere else in Germany. Dornfelder, M&uuml;ller-Thurgau, Sp&auml;tburgunder, Grauburgunder, Portugieser, Wei&szlig;burgunder, Kerner, Gew&uuml;rztraminer, and Chardonnay are all seen in portfolios throughout Pfalz. Sadly, not many of these varietals make it to the United States, making Pfalz a vacation must.<br /> Pfalz lies within Germany&rsquo;s Rhineland; however, its climate is less influenced by the Rhine River and more by the Haardt Mountains, allowing for extended sunlight and resulting in wines that are fruitier and more approachable, while still maintaining high levels acidity. This means two things &ndash; in Pfalz <em>trocken</em> means bone dry, yet rather than austere and piercing the wines are relaxed, round, and approachable.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Throughout the week in Pfalz, my experiences kept taking me to the intersection of tradition and modernity.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Dr B&uuml;rklin-Wolf</strong><br /><br /> The first wine I tasted was a 2013 Dr B&uuml;rklin-Wolf Wachenheimer Riesling. It was fresh on the nose &ndash; floral, stone fruit, citrus with loads of lemon zest and graphite, a fabulous first sip. The dryness challenged my expectations, a modern wine from a winery dating back to the 16th century. I proceeded to enjoy many additional Dr B&uuml;rklin-Wolf wines at the winery and at dinner, including a sparkling, a gorgeous sweet Auslese Riesling, and my favorite &ndash; 2015 Gaisbohl Riesling GG, a single vineyard Grand Cru that was rich, elegant, a pleasing balance of fresh fruit and minerality, and bone dry. The wines were paired with fresh local food, goat cheese, salad, roasted fish with root vegetables, demonstrating their flexibility with modern food pairings from a winery steeped in tradition. &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Weingut Hammel</strong><br /><br /> Christoph Hammel embodies Pfalz&rsquo;s embrace of modern individualism. He is opinionated, outspoken, and charming. This 8th generation winemaker at Weingut Hammel shared his concerns about climate change as he poured a deep pink ros&eacute;. He witnesses the German climate evolving to become more like Marlborough, New Zealand. With this in mind he has adoptros&eacute; into his portfolio to prepare for the future. He believes &ldquo;Germany is a sleeping giant when it comes to ros&eacute;,&rdquo; noting as the climate continues to change &ldquo;ros&eacute; is becoming a year round wine.&rdquo; As a renegade, he is also producing Scheurebe Trocken and Liebfraumelch (a blend of M&uuml;ller-Thurgau, Sylvaner, and Chardonnay). It was here I met a lovely transgender German Wine Princess, a long standing German tradition with a very modern twist.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Weingut Ludi Neiss</strong><br /><br /> It wasn&rsquo;t until visiting Weingut Ludi Neiss that I stepped into my first German vineyard and enjoyed my first Sp&auml;tburgunder (Pinot Noir) in Pfalz. With a favorable climate due to the Haardt Mountains, many historical vineyards in Pfalz are today biodynamic, organic, or sustainable. Additionally, like many Pfalz producers, Ludi Neiss has forgone the complicated wine labels, opting instead for an easy to read label marketed to the United States wine consumer. I found the labels a refreshingly modern change.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Weingut Georg Mosbacher</strong><br /><br /> Weingut Georg Mosbacher, a well-respected Pfalz winery, fit right into the dynamic reputation of the region. Sabine Mosbacher shared her 2017 Sauvignon Blanc, 2017 Cabernet Blanc, and many grand cru single vineyard Rieslings. It was my first experience tasting Cabernet Blanc, a crossing of Cabernet Sauvignon with a hybrid grape that tastes similar to Sauvignon Blanc with a Riesling texture. Highly recommend seeking out Georg Mosbacher wines.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Weingut Pfeffingen</strong><br /><br /> While in Pfalz I attended my first Hoffest at Weingut Pfeffingen. The quintessentially German community wide food and wine celebration was a blast. Along with Weingut Pfeffingen&rsquo;s high quality Riesling, Scheurebe, Sp&auml;tburgunder and Gew&uuml;rztraminer, I enjoyed modern offerings of fresh avocados, salad, focaccia bread, and mozzarella. A food and wine feast!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Weingut Von Buhl</strong><br /><br /> Weingut Von Buhl was founded in 1849, with cellars dating back to its beginning. However, its production techniques and wines are fully modern. I could not believe my nose when I was handed a glass of the 2015 Riesling Sekt Brut, the autolysis notes took me to Champagne. I was equally struck by the 2017 Bone Dry Riesling and Ros&eacute;, both modern in style and label presentation. I later learned winemaker Mathieu Kauffman spent twelve years as cellar master at Bollinger and grew up in Alsace. Kauffman&rsquo;s background is a recipe for success as Von Buhl looks to the future.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Weingut Weegm&uuml;ller</strong><br /><br /> Weingut Weegm&uuml;ller is run by Gabrielle and her sister Stephanie, the first female wine maker in Germany. Stephanie faced obstacles in a male dominated occupation, mainly saying with a smile &ldquo;there was only one toilet.&rdquo; Her first vintage was in 1984 with her father, she took over winemaking in 1988. Weegm&uuml;ller focuses on white varietals, mainly Riesling, Scheurebe, Wei&szlig;er Burgunder (Pinot Blanc), and Gew&uuml;rztraminer. They, like many others, have embraced organic wine making. Gabrielle explained making organic wine in Pfalz is easy because &ldquo;they are living in the Garden of Eden.&rdquo;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Weingut J&uuml;lg and Weingut Friedrich Becker</strong><br /><br /> The next two wineries visited further illustrate the dynamic nature of Pfalz because both wineries&rsquo; vineyards lie in France. Weingut J&uuml;lg and Weingut Friedrich Becker lie within a stone&rsquo;s throw of the French border. Prior to World War II both wineries owned vineyards in Alsace, which at the time was Germany. After the war the French retained possession of the vineyards until the mid-1980&rsquo;s when, according to Johannes J&uuml;lg, it was returned to the Germans. Today, both wineries are producing high quality Riesling, Wei&szlig;er Burgunder, and Sp&auml;tburgunder. The wines are young, modern, fresh, and easily drinkable.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> A delicious homemade lunch at Weingut J&uuml;lg was the only time in my week in Pfalz that I experienced &ldquo;traditional&rdquo; German cuisine. Saumagen (a popular Palatinate dish of &ldquo;sow&rsquo;s stomach&rdquo;) was served alongside liver, sausage, salad, sour kraut and roasted potatoes. To be honest I ate vegetarian at this lunch, but the sour kraut and roasted potatoes were incredible.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Weingut Bassermann-Jordan</strong><br /><br /> My educational Pfalz week was coming to an end, but not before one last delicious dinner and wine tasting. Weingut Bassermann-Jordan, along with Dr B&uuml;rklin-Wolf, is one of Pfalz oldest wineries and founding members of the VDP, Germany&rsquo;s top wine quality assurance organization. A fitting end to a dynamic week included enjoying many high quality Bassermann-Jordan wines ranging from single vineyard dry Riesling, to the 2015 Deux Nez &ndash; a Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot blend, and concluding with beautifully balanced Gew&uuml;rztraminer Auslese. Each wine paired beautifully with pesto salad, truffle ravioli, and a light hazelnut parfait. After a modern meal with modern wines, my final Pfalz journey took me into the Bassermann-Jordan cellar dating back to the early 19th century. I found this an apropos ending to a dynamic week exploring the juxtaposition of modernity and tradition in wine, food, and culture &ndash; Pfalz.</p> Tue, 11 Sep 2018 00:00:00 -0400 article7061 This world-class wine region was in my backyard. Jeff Kralik <p>As a long-time resident of Philadelphia, trips to &ldquo;Wine Country&rdquo; for me consisted of a lengthy flight, usually in the neighborhood of 6-7 hours. I would either head west, to one of the many regions in California, Oregon, or Washington. Or, I would fly east, heading across the Atlantic to one of the countless wine regions in Europe.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> It was not until I moved to Texas two years ago that I realized that there was a world-class wine region that had been virtually in my back yard, a mere four hours away. And I was not alone. In fact, nearly a quarter of the U.S. population lives within a day&rsquo;s drive of one of the country&rsquo;s great wine appellations: the Finger Lakes in New York State.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> A few weeks ago, I got back from my second trip to the region in the last couple of years and my overall sentiment both times was the same: &ldquo;Why on earth did I not visit when I lived in Philly?&quot;<br /> While the Finger Lakes have experienced considerable growth (there are now over 100 wineries), the region is not all that different today than it was a couple of decades ago. Sure, there has been a much brighter light on the wineries and wines as of late, but surprisingly, it remains a sleepy enclave of wine production despite being just a few hour drive from New York City.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Unlike other wine regions in the U.S. (think Napa, Sonoma, Washington, the Willamette Valley), the Finger Lakes has not seen a large influx of cash from the metropolis to its southeast. While it seems that owning a Napa Valley winery is every hedge fund manager&#39;s retirement plan, winery owners in the Finger Lakes are there for a curious reason: to make great wine under what can be very difficult conditions.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Winemakers in California, one has argued, have it fairly easy; while they certainly worry about the vagaries of weather in an increasingly changing environment, folks in the Finger Lakes have the added complexity of winter. It is often the coldest months--where temperatures frequently drop below 0 degrees F (-18 degrees C)&mdash;that cause the most concern, necessitating particular vineyard practices in hopes that the vines merely survive the extreme conditions.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> There are a total of eleven lakes that constitute the Finger Lakes, but the vast majority of the wineries are situated around just three: Keuka Lake (20 wineries) to the West, Seneca Lake (56) that runs due north from Watkins Glen, and Cayuga Lake (25), the longest of all the lakes at just under 40 miles.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> During my first trip to the Finger Lakes a couple of years ago, I focused on the traditional wineries, those that have been making wine in upstate New York for generations. I wanted to get a better understanding of the traditions and history of the region and I could think of no better way than to start with those that had been there the longest.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>My First Trip to the Finger Lakes</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> My first stop was Seneca Lake and <strong>Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards</strong>, which, as the name of the winery indicates, the Hazlitt family has been farming since the mid-19th Century. The first vintage of their own wine, however, did not appear until almost a century and a half later (1984), and now the winery produces around 200,000 cases each year. As I was tasting through the vinifera wines at the welcoming horseshoe bar in the tasting room, I kept hearing a peculiar chant from the adjoining tasting room:<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Red Cat, Red Cat, it&rsquo;s an aphrodisiac. Red Cat, Red Cat, will get you luck in the sack.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Hazlitt&rsquo;s Red Cat (a sweet red wine made from the Catawba grape), the state&rsquo;s top selling wine, has its own tasting room, where customers repeat the Red Cat chant at the top of their lungs all day long.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Another fantastic tasting experience on Seneca Lake includes <strong>Fox Run Vineyard</strong>, which boasts its own caf&eacute; where I have been fed very well on a couple of occasions, has some of the best Rieslings I have tasted in the region (their Lot 11 Series is superb), and a Tawny Port that rivals some of the top wines from Portugal.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Staying on Seneca Lake, <strong>Glenora Wine Cellars</strong> produces some fantastic sparkling wines using the fairly rare transfer method and boasts a 30-room Inn and restaurant overlooking the lake. <strong>Lamoreaux Landing Wine Cellars</strong>, which arguably produces one of the best Chardonnays in the Finger Lakes also has a wonderful unoaked Cabernet Franc.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> On Cayuga Lake, no run-down of the &ldquo;old guard&rdquo; would be complete without <strong>Swedish Hill</strong> (try the Optimus, a Bordeaux blend); <strong>Sheldrake Point</strong> (who, among many stellar wines, has a Gamay Noir and a Reserve Gamay of which the folks in Beaujolais might just be jealous); and <strong>Hosmer Estate Winery</strong>, who are one of the few making Sauvignon Blanc in the appellation and are frankly crushing it.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> There are two more &ldquo;stalwart&rdquo; wineries that are perhaps in classes of their own making. The first, <strong>Dr. Konstantin Frank</strong>, on Keuka Lake, is perhaps the most recognizable brand in the Finger Lakes, opening its winery in 1962. Today, the winery thrives with stellar wines across the board, but I continually return to the Rieslings, and two, the Eugenia ($30) and the Margrit ($35) are particularly noteworthy.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Oft cited as those &ldquo;in the know&rdquo; as the maker of the best wines in the Finger Lakes, the <strong>Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard</strong>, started making wines in the Seneca Lake appellation in 1979. Perhaps not surprisingly, Riesling is king at Wiemer as Hermann hailed from Bernkastel, Germany in the heart of the Mosel, but the sparkling wines are quickly catching up and now are considered among the top bottles of bubbles from the Finger Lakes.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>My Second Trip to the Finger Lakes</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> On my latest trip to the region I focused on some of the newer brands that have popped up in the region since the turn of the millennium. I stopped first at <strong>Ravines Wine Cellars</strong>, near the top of Seneca Lake, just outside of Geneva, NY., where I met the owners Lisa and Morten Hallgren.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The Hallgrens have been making Ravines wines for the better part of the last two decades, and Morten was the winemaker at Dr. Frank for almost seven years prior to Ravines&rsquo; first vintage in 2002. A native of Denmark, Morten spent his teenage years in the south of France, where his family operated the Domaine de Castle Roubine.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Lisa, Morten&rsquo;s wife, handles both the marketing and the burgeoning hospitality portion of the business. Like many winemakers, Morten refers to his vintages as if they were his children, as each one comes from a different beginning with dissimilar evolutions. Sure, there are perhaps some similarities, but each vintage and each wine has its own &quot;personality.&quot;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Although my time with Morten was brief, we tasted through a slew of varieties and vintages, and while his Rieslings receive much of the praise (and rightfully so), his Chardonnays, Cabernet Francs, and sparkling wines are among the best that I have tasted from the region:<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>2008 Ravines Blanc de Blanc, Finger Lakes</strong>: Retail $35. 100% Chardonnay. Wine club only. Just disgorged last year (2017), it would be difficult to identify in a blind tasting that this wine is nearly a decade past its harvest. Light and lively with plenty of yeastiness this is fresh with great citrus aromas and flavors. Very nice. <strong>90-92 Points.</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>2015 Ravines Wine Cellars Chardonnay, Finger Lakes</strong>: Retail $20. An adaptation of the appasimento method: Morten dries 20-30% of grapes, looking to balance the fruit and oak. The fruit is stacked on trays for 4-7 weeks where it would lose about half its weight, then foot tread whole cluster before basket pressing. Golden yellow. Certainly an oxidized aspect with some lemon rind. Concentrated and rich with lemon rind and a finish that last for minutes. A very Jura type feeling to it. Rich yet lithe with really nice acidity and concentration. <strong>91-93 Points.</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> My next stop was <strong>Kemmeter Wines</strong>, about half way up the west side of Seneca Lake, right across the street from another stalwart of the region, <strong>Anthony Road Wine Company</strong>. I first met Johannes Reinhardt a couple of years ago when a fellow writer insisted I stop by the tiny tasting room outside the town of Penn Yan, New York.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> She insisted that I would be impressed, that it was well worth the detour. She was wrong. I was not impressed, I was blown away.&nbsp; From the moment Johannes starts to speak, his passion for making great wines is palpable.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> 2012 was Kemmeter Wines first vintage, and Johannes opened the doors to his tiny chapel-like tasting room a year later. He began planting in 2014 and this vintage (2018) will be the first that 100% of Kemmeter wines will come from the estate.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> While Kemmeter (named after Johannes&#39; maternal grandmother) is a newcomer as a brand, Johannes is far from a newcomer to wine. He hails from the Frankonia wine region in Germany, where his family has been making wine for close to 600 years, and before moving on to his own project, he had been the winemaker at his now neighbor, Anthony Road for over a decade.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> When asked what makes making wine in the Finger Lakes unique, Johannes quickly responded: &ldquo;There has never been a year in the Finger Lakes that was an easy one. Every year it is something. In my nineteen years [here], there have been 17 different kinds of vintages.&rdquo; While I find all of his wines stellar, here are a couple of his current releases that stood out:<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>2017 Kemmeter Estate Sonero Ros&eacute; of Pinot Noir Seneca Lake</strong>: Retail $22. Screwcap. Johannes takes 75% of the wine and treats it like a Blanc de Noir: straight to press with no skin contact. The other 25% is made like a red wine and the two are then blended. Brilliant red, not really pink. Strawberry and rhubarb dominate the nose. Great tart fruit on the palate with a touch of residual sugar that is barely noticeable. Fantastic. <strong>90-92 Points.</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>2017 Kemmeter Estate Riesling Dry Seneca Lake</strong>: Retail $28. Straw yellow with pineapple and just a hint of petrol on the nose. The wine took a bit of time to present itself on the palate, but when it did, wow. Bountiful fruit, a zingy tartness, and incredible length. This is a stunner. <strong>91-93 Points.</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> I then headed over to the East side of Seneca Lake, to <strong>Boundary Breaks Vineyard</strong>, to sit with Bruce Murray for a spell and delve deeply into Riesling, the Finger Lakes&rsquo; signature grape variety. Bruce&rsquo;s previous career was first in publishing and then in tech, but when he cashed out, he knew that he needed to do something. Being a wine-lover, with the prospect of being his own boss, he figured: &ldquo;Why not?&quot;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> He would likely be the first to admit that the learning curve is rather steep, but he appears to have few regrets around his choice to dive into the Finger Lakes winemaking business. A hard-working native of Syracuse, he was familiar with both the Finger Lakes region and the harsh winters of upstate New York.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> One regret he did share with me, though, was that when he started this project ten years ago, he wishes that he would have planted a bit more Cabernet Franc (he initially planted only Riesling), as he predicts that in a mere 5-10 years the Finger Lakes will be seen as a world-class region for both whites and reds.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Those original Riesling plantings, though, are faring quite well, and Bruce makes five clone-specific wines, which we proceeded to taste through in the newly opened (and quite beautiful) tasting room:<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>2016 Boundary Breaks Clone 239 Riesling</strong>: Retail $18. Selected by the Wine Spectatoras a top 100 wine.&nbsp; Loaded with stone fruit, particularly peach. Really beautiful nose. Tart peach on the palate and comes off as. quite dry. Very nice. <strong>91-93 Points.</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>2016 Boundary Breaks Clone 198 Riesling</strong>:Retail $22. Made in a spa&euml;tlese style (the grapes are picked after an extended maturation period), this wine has a bit of a muted nose but good lemon and lime on the palate with a tad of sweetness. Great length. <strong>90-92 Points.</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> If you are one of the roughly 80 million Americans that still live within about a six-hour drive of the Finger Lakes, do yourself a favor: visit. Before you have to up and move to Texas.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Photo Credit: <a href="">New York Wines</a></p> Mon, 10 Sep 2018 00:00:00 -0400 article7060 Uncorking Fall with Champagne John Downes <p>The history of Champagne is fascinating and every House has a tale to tell. How Moet met Chandon, the story of the widow (veuve) Cliquot, who discovered the bubbles and the many other tales that surround these chilly French vineyards. They all enhance our understanding of this King of Sparklers. &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> I was at lunch with clients at Champagne Henriot&rsquo;s winery in Reims a while ago and rolling through their history whilst sipping a glass of their N.V. (non vintage) Blanc de Blancs brought the wine and the region to life. &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Champagne Henriot started way back in 1794 when Nicolas Henriot, a wine merchant in Reims married Apolline Godinot, a local beauty and vineyard owner. Romance and business in perfect harmony! Sadly, after 14 years of marriage, Nicolas died leaving Apolline to become one of the regions&rsquo; famous widows founding &lsquo;Veuve Henriot Aine&rsquo; in 1808. The House has been in the family ever since. <br /> Over the years the family built up an impressive portfolio of vineyard plots but in 1985 Joseph Henriot sold much of the estate; it&rsquo;s reported that 125 hectares went to Veuve Clicquot in return for a reasonable chunk of Clicquot shares. He ended up running Veuve Cliquot within the L.V.M.H. (Louis Vuitton-Moet Hennesy) Group establishing himself as a Champagne visionary along the way but, in 1994 he returned to the fold and appointed his eldest son Stanilas to run the family business. In 2010 his younger son Thomas took the reins as success followed success.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Henriot&rsquo;s present prowess also owes much to the inspirational winemaking and vineyard management of Chef de Caves Laurent Fresnet who joined in 2006. He deservedly won the International Sparkling Winemaker of the Year Award in 2015. &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> My regular snooth readers know my adage that &lsquo;you can&rsquo;t make good wine from bad grapes, you can only make great wine from great grapes&rsquo;. Champagne is no exception. All the Champagne vineyard villages carry a quality tag, be it cru, premier cru or grand cru status within the three main vineyard areas of Montagne de Reims, the Vallee de la Marne and the Cotes de Blanc. &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Henriot have about 35 hectares of top vineyard plots dotted around these three main areas, including Ay, a grand cru in the Vallee de la Marne, Avenay, a premier cru in the Montagne de Reims and Chouilly, a grand cru in the Cotes de Blancs.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> These vineyards supply about 15-20 per cent of Henriot&rsquo;s needs (they produce about 1.5 million bottles a year), the rest of the grapes come from trusted growers who own premier and grand cru vineyards. The vineyards of the Cotes de Blancs, which include the Top Johnny villages of Avize, Oger, Cramant and Vertus are particularly cherished as the Cotes de Blanc is the home of Chardonnay, the Champagne grape that emphasises the creamy yet crisp Henriot style.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Reflecting centuries of winemaking history, Henriot&rsquo;s Blanc de Blancs NV. is aged for 3 - 5 years and their entry level Souverain NV is aged for 3 years; that&rsquo;s impressive when you consider that most non-vintage Champagnes are lucky to get 18 months &lsquo;on the lees&rsquo; (the dead yeast sediment) in the bottle following the second fermentation.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> So next time you&rsquo;re sipping a glass of Champagne check the history of the House, it&rsquo;ll give you a whole new tasting experience.</p> Wed, 05 Sep 2018 00:00:00 -0400 article7059 The German Wine Region You’ve Probably Overlooked Frank Morgan <p>Sometimes overlooked for its larger and better-known neighbors, the Nahe is leveraging its geological diversity to build a reputation in the global wine world as a region for distinctive, world-class wines.&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Situated about 45 minutes southwest of Frankfurt, the Nahe is named for the river that winds through the region.&nbsp; Spanning 125 kilometers (78 miles), the river Nahe rises near Nohfelden in the Saarland, stretches east to the region&rsquo;s capital town of Bad Kreuznach and then north to Bingen where it flows into the Rhine.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Framed by the Hunsr&uuml;ck hills and the North Palatine Uplands on either side of the river, the Nahe is a pastoral region of rolling green hills and expansive meadows dotted with charming villages of historic timber-framed homes, vineyards climbing steep hillsides, and striking rock formations jutting from the valley floor. &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The steep south-facing slopes along the river Nahe and its tributaries, the Alzenz and Glan, are among the finest terroirs in Germany for distinctive, elegant Riesling. <br /> Just over a quarter (29%) of the 4,200 hectares of vines in the Nahe are planted to Riesling, clinging to steep slopes climbing from the banks of the river.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> M&uuml;ller-Thurgau, the grape created by Swiss Botanist Hermann M&uuml;ller in 1882 by crossing Riesling and Gutedel, was the most planted grape in the Nahe (and across Germany) until Riesling overtook it a few decades ago.&nbsp; Today, the early-ripening grape accounts for 13% of vineyard plantings followed by Grauburgunder (Pinot Gris) with 8%, and Silvaner 5%. &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Dornfelder is the most planted red grape in the region with 10% of hectares followed by Sp&auml;tburgunder (Pinot Noir) with 7%.&nbsp; Lesser-known varieties like the aromatically charming Pinot Madeline are also thriving in the region.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> &ldquo;Although vines have been cultivated in the region since Roman times it was only under the German Wine Law of 1971 that the Nahe was declared an independent region,&rdquo; explained Ernst B&uuml;scher of the German Wine Institute.&nbsp; &ldquo;This is one reason why it&rsquo;s like a hidden treasure for many wine lovers.&rdquo;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Though the Nahe valley is one of the smallest regions, accounting for less than 5% of the 105,000 hectares of vineyards in Germany, it&rsquo;s one of the most geologically diverse, boasting 180 different soils.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> In his book, <em>Reading Between the Vines</em>, renowned wine importer Terry Theise writes, &ldquo;Riesling does more than just imply terroir: it subsumes its own identity as fruit into the greater meaning of soil, land, and place. Riesling knows soil more intimately than any other grape.&rdquo;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> This truth can be found in Riesling&rsquo;s many expressions of the diverse soils of the Nahe. &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> From melaphyre, quartz-porphyry, and light sandstone soils in the upper Nahe, to loess and red sandstone in the central part of the region around Bad Kreuznach, to the slate and argillaceous shale soils of the lower part, the varied soils speak through Rieslings and other varieties. &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> &ldquo;The soil diversity is the foundation for this multifarious microcosm called the Nahe region,&rdquo; explained Andreas Held, Sommelier at Meisenheimer Hof, a historic hotel and restaurant in the village of Meisenheim.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> &ldquo;On each soil you have different grapes, cultivated by different winemakers with their own ideas and philosophies, who create their wine in different styles with different techniques. That adds up to an oenological treasure chest.&rdquo;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The Rieslings of the Nahe are not the one-dimensional, sweet wines that flooded the market in the 1980s and 90s.&nbsp; As a small region overshadowed by its larger neighbors, Nahe winegrowers collectively focus on producing quality wines that are transparent and expressive of their place. &nbsp;<br /><br /> [PAGEBREAK]<br /><br /> Wines, especially Riesling, made from grapes grown in conglomerate soils express more minerality while those grown in slate soils tend to be more elegant and fruitier.&nbsp; The Riesling made from vineyards planted in red sandstone are aromatic with racy acidity and those grown in loess were more aromatically restrained while the wines made from grapes grown in sand were creamier. &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The <em>current </em>climate in the Nahe is mild and dry and getting warmer.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> &ldquo;When I took over in 1971, the weather was different,&rdquo; explained Helmut D&ouml;nnhoff, head of the renowned D&ouml;nnhoff estate.&nbsp; &ldquo;Today, the average temperature is warmer so the grapes have better physiological ripeness.&nbsp; I can say right now it&rsquo;s near perfect.&rdquo;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> With over 45 vintages of experience, few are as qualified to speak on the climatological impact on wine quality in the region as Mr. D&ouml;nnhoff.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> One of the most respected winemakers in Germany,&nbsp; D&ouml;nnhoff&rsquo;s Rieslings are some of the highest-regarded in the world.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The D&ouml;nnhoff family came to the Nahe over two centuries ago, settling in the small hamlet of Oberh&auml;usen, situated in the central part of the region along the banks of the river.&nbsp;&nbsp; The family operated a traditional farm with livestock, vegetable and fruit gardens and some vineyards until the 1920s when Helmut&rsquo;s grandfather, Hermann D&ouml;nnhoff, transitioned to cultivating vineyards.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> When Helmut took over the vineyard and cellar in 1971 (widely considered the best vintage in decades), he farmed four hectares of vines.&nbsp; Today, he and his son, Cornelius, farm 28 hectares of grand cru vineyards across nine different vineyard sites and produce about 17,000 cases of wine.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Cornelius joined his father in the vineyard and cellar in 2007 after completing viticulture studies and internships in other regions.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Cornelius is one of a number of talented young winemakers who grew up in the region, studied viticulture at prominent universities and apprenticed in other regions gathering experiences to bring back to the Nahe.&nbsp; &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Among this group of winemakers writing the next chapter of the Nahe wine story is 25 year-old Laura Weber, 11th generation winemaker at Weingut Udo Weber, situated in the village of Monzingen in the central Nahe. &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> &ldquo;I studied [oenology] in Geisenheim from 2012 to 2016,&rdquo; said Weber.&nbsp; &ldquo;When I came back to our winery I updated the logo, created my own line of wines, and focused on expanding to other markets by participating in exhibitions in Denmark, the Netherlands and Austria.&rdquo;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Twenty kilometers east of Weber, in the village of Niederhausen, winemaker Jakob Schneider, 35, is helping raise the stature of the Nahe region at his family&rsquo;s estate, Weingut Jakob Schneider.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Schneider studied viticulture at Geisenheim University and interned at Knoll in the Wachau region of Austria before returning to his family&rsquo;s historic estate, which was established in 1575.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Today, three generations of Schneiders farm 18 hectares (and 26 ha of leased vineyards) on steep-sloped vineyards overlooking the Nahe River. &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> &ldquo;I&rsquo;m continuing the traditions of my father in the vineyard but, I&rsquo;m making changes in the cellar like installing air conditioning and purchasing new equipment,&rdquo; explained Schneider.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> In M&uuml;nster-Sarmsheim, a small village on the western side of the Nahe, Georg Rumpf runs his family&rsquo;s estate, Kruger-Rumpf. &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> With roots in the region dating back to the late 18th century, the family sold most of their grapes to larger producers or co-ops until 1984.&nbsp; Since completing his viticulture studies ten years ago, Rumpf has overseen the expansion of Kruger-Rumpf vineyard holdings from 15 hectares to 43 today.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> &ldquo;We&rsquo;ve had the chance to get new vineyards in recent years,&rdquo; said Rumpf.&nbsp; &ldquo;Like vineyards planted in the 1930s in the Abtei (TK), which are the most notthern in the Nahe and this year we acquired new blocks in the village of Waldlaubersheim, some of the highest altitude vineyards in the region.&rdquo;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Though Kruger-Rumpf, D&ouml;nnhoff and other established estates have distribution in the U.S. and other markets outside of Germany, most Nahe wine is sold direct to consumers in the region.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The majority of wine produced in the region is sold direct to consumers from family tasting rooms but winegrowers are focusing on expanding to important markets like the U.S. and attracting wine tourists to the area.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The region is tourist-friendly, easy to navigate, and offers plenty of outdoor activities like hiking and riding the rails on a draisine.&nbsp; Natural spring spas in Bad Kreuznach, Bad Munster and Bad Sobernheim provide a place to recharge.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> For the history-minded wine tourist a walk around the historic ruins of Klosterruine Disibodenberg&mdash;once home to Hildegard von Bingen, 12th century abbess, philosopher, and writer&mdash;designated a &lsquo;Landmark of Wine Culture&rsquo; by the German Wine Institute in 2010, is a must. &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> For a taste of the historic, diverse region seek out wines from these producers:<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href="">Emrich-Sch&ouml;nleber</a><br /><br /> <a href="">Sch&auml;fer-Fr&ouml;hlich</a><br /><br /> <a href="">Gut Hermannsberg</a><br /><br /> <a href="">Schlossgut Diel</a><br /><br /> <a href="">Weingut Tesch</a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Like dry Riesling, the Nahe Valley&rsquo;s time has come.&nbsp; <em>Prost!</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> A few of my favorite wines from my recent trip to the Nahe:<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <strong>2012 D&ouml;nnhoff Niederh&auml;user Hermannsh&ouml;hle Riesling Gro&szlig;es Gew&auml;chs (GG)</strong><br /><br /> Hermannsh&ouml;hle is D&ouml;nnhoff&rsquo;s oldest vineyard and one of the most revered sites in the Nahe and beyond. It&rsquo;s a steep-sloped hill of argillaceous slate with limestone veins.&nbsp; &lsquo;Hermann&rsquo; is derived from the Roman god of messengers and travelers, Hermes and &lsquo;H&ouml;hle&rsquo; means a small mine in the middle of the hillside.&nbsp; A beautiful, balanced, expressive Riesling. Light gold color in the glass, aromas of peach, ripe pear, lychee and flint jump from the glass. Flavors of pear, peach skin, saline and hints of chalk. Wonderful texture in the mouth, racy acidity; lengthy lemon-mineral finish.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Jakob Schneider 2017 Riesling Trocken Melaphyr</strong><br /><br /> A delicious QbA (&lsquo;quality wine&rsquo;) Riesling from Jakob Schneider. Melaphyr is a reference to black-red volcanic rock in the vineyard.&nbsp; Smoky with notes of exotic fruits, spice, dried lychee and hints of ginger around a mineral core. Lovely citrus acidity and balance.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Kruger-Rumpf 2009 Sp&auml;tburgunder R Trocken</strong><br /><br /> Elegant, charming, and expressive, this wine serves as a great example of why Pinot Noir is growing in popularity and importance in the Nahe (and Germany as a whole).&nbsp; This wine is made from Pinot vines planted in the 1980s and 90s on hillside vineyards in M&uuml;nsterer Rheinberg, predominantly quartz and slate with some loess soils.&nbsp; Fresh with crackling energy, notes of ripe cherry, violets, mushroom, and stone; notable acidity; lengthy red berry finish.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Gut Hermannsberg Blanc de Blancs Brut Vormals Koniglich-Preussische</strong><br /><br /> This Sekt from the historic Weingut Hermannsberg is one of a growing number of delicious, dry sparkling wines available in the Nahe.&nbsp; A focus on producing quality sparkling wine is an emerging trend in the region.&nbsp; The term &lsquo;Sekt&rsquo; became the official designation in Germany in 1925 when &lsquo;Champagne&rsquo; could no longer be legally used for German bubbles. A blend of Pinot Blanc and Chardonnay grapes from Hermannsberg&rsquo;s Grosse Lage (Grand Cru) vineyards, the juice was aged in stainless steel tanks and demi-muids and made in the traditional (champenoise) m&eacute;thode. Complex and vibrant with notes of stone fruits and saline; creamy texture and lengthy brioche finish.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Schlossgut Diel 2014 Kabinett Schlossberg</strong><br /><br /> Located in the lower Nahe, this estate was purchase by the Diel family in 1802.&nbsp; Today, Armin Diel operates the winery his daughter Caroline is the winemaker.&nbsp; The Riesling for this wine was grown on steep, south-facing slopes of slate and clay soils.&nbsp; Aged in neutral oak barrels made from local forests and then in stainless steel.&nbsp; An elegant and balanced Riesling, aromas of spice, pear and peach skin jump from the glass with flavors of flint, peach water, and sweet pear.&nbsp; Zingy minerally acidity.</p> Fri, 31 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0400 article7058 Napa Valley History in a Glass Michelle Williams <p>How does an iconic Napa Valley winery celebrate seventy-five years of making wine family style? For Peter Mondavi Jr. of Charles Krug Winery, it meant raiding the wine library, corralling family members, and taking the show on the road.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> This spring Mondavi hosted a series of masterclasses in New York, Dallas, and Napa Valley, where he guided attendees through a selection of eight Charles Krug Vintage Selection Cabernets dating back to 1964, along a pre-release sample of 2015 and barrel sample of 2016 vintages. I attended the masterclass in Dallas, then visited the Napa winery less than a week later. This retrospective tasting was truly Napa Valley history in a glass.<br /> In 1861, Napa Valley visionary Charles Krug established the winery. Cesare and Rosa Mondavi moved to the United States as newlyweds from Italy in 1908. After moving around the United States they settled in California, and in 1943 purchased Charles Krug Winery. Upon the death of Cesare Mondavi in 1959, Rosa Mondavi became the president of Charles Krug, running the winery with her two sons. In 1965, Robert Mondavi Charles Krug Winery to start a winery of his own. Peter Mondavi Senior ran the Charles Krug from 1976 until 2016, when he passed away at the age of 101. Today, brothers Peter Mondavi Jr and Marc Mondavi run Charles Krug Winery, continuing the legacy of family values, hard work, and crafting quality wines using European traditions. &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Charles Krug has been a true innovator in Napa Valley. Under the leadership of Peter Mondavi Sr., Charles Krug was the first in Napa Valley to utilize French oak for aging wines. He also initiated the practices of cold fermentation, glass-lined tanks, and sterile filtration for better winemaking control. &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Peter Mondavi Jr. explains, of their Vintage Selection Cabernet: &ldquo;the whole premise is to be the best of the best.&rdquo; In the early years much of the fruit was sourced from Napa Valley&rsquo;s top vineyards, such as To Kalon and Faye Vineyards. Peter Mondavi Sr. would pick the best fruit to comprise the wine. Today, Mondavi Jr. says, the winery has depth in their estate vineyards. &ldquo;We know which blocks in which vineyards produce the best Cabernet. Those blocks are ear-marked for Vintage Selection. Now the wine begins in the vineyard from canopy management, spacing, rootstock and clonal selection.&rdquo;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The winery&rsquo;s library of Vintage Selection dates back to 1944. It was not until the mid-1960s that the now-iconic red strip was added to the label. Vintage Selection wines were only made in the best vintages, but today, with full control over the growing process, the wine is made annually. However, as Mondavi tells me, &ldquo;It is not a wine driven by the market. Depending on what the vintage offers, the quantity of the production can vary considerably.&rdquo;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The Vintage Selection library masterclass felt like stepping into a time machine, returning to the days of Napa Valley when the Cabernets contained lower alcohol and less concentration. Although the winemakers changed over the years, Peter Mondavi Sr. was a constant presence in the wine. Today, regardless of the winemaker, Peter Mondavi Jr. explains, &ldquo;The family has a heavy influence of the wine style of Vintage Selection.&rdquo;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Two important events took place in the early 2000s resulting in a style evolution of Vintage Selection. Between 1999 and 2000, Charles Krug undertook a massive vineyard replanting, playing close attention to rootstock selection, clonal selections, vine spacing, and canopy management styles. Also, Peter Mondavi Jr. went to Europe with his father to visit family, and while there met with Denis Malbec, winemaker at Ch&acirc;teau Latour, in Pauillac. They hired Malbec as a consultant, and he brought the Bordeaux blending mentality to Charles Krug. The 2003 vintage is a reflection of this philosophy, along with re-plantings. Mondavi Jr. tells me he is &ldquo;pleased with the results&rdquo; of these changes.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>1964 Vintage Selection Cabernet Sauvignon</strong> smelled like Christmas potpourri as it entered the glass. However, as the wine met the air around it, it developed notes of black olive tapenade, moving from a sweeter spice to a more savory wine. The 1964 vintage was 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, aged for 14 months in a blend of French and American oak, and contained only 11.4% alcohol. I found it elegant, light, and easy to enjoy.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>1966 Vintage Selection Cabernet Sauvignon</strong> surprised me by its freshness. Only two years younger than the 1964, its fruit is much more pronounced. It has all the characteristics of a well-made aged wine, with spice, dried fruit, worn leather, and cedar. The tannins are well integrated but still have a vibrancy on the palate. Ninety-two percent of grapes for this wine came from the To Kalon Vineyard. It spent 29 months in French and American oak and weighed-in at 12.8% alcohol.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>1974 Lot F-1 Vintage Selection Cabernet Sauvignon</strong> stole my heart. Made from 100% Cabernet Sauvignon grown in the Fay Vineyard in the Stag&rsquo;s Leap Wine District, this 4 decade old wine is drinking beautifully. It has a gorgeous nose with notes of spice, dried red fruit, and dried lavender. It is herbal and savory with loads of vibrancy in both flavors and palate. The structure is alive, the length and finish long. It has 13.2% alcohol.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>1983 Vintage Selection Cabernet Sauvignon</strong> is awake showing no signs of slowing down. Aromas of a worn leather cigar box lined with cedar envelope the senses. Its medium body offers lively tannins with a touch of grip and a long, restrained finish. It was aged 23 months in French oak and has 12.5% alcohol.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>1991 Vintage Selection Cabernet Sauvignon</strong> affirms 2 decades is not old for a well-made Napa Valley Cabernet. This wine is full of life. Layers of dried and baked fruit, spice, dried roses, tobacco, licorice, and dried herbs stand at attention. High tannins and acidity balance a fuller-bodied, richer wine that feels a bit weightier on the palate. Still a stunner. It was aged in French oak for 28 months and is 13.9% alcohol (more prevalent on the palate).<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>1998 Vintage Selection Cabernet Sauvignon</strong> was another dazzling wine. Peter Mondavi Jr. explained this was a challenging vintage due to an abundance of rain. Overall the ratings on the vintage were low and initially this wine was lackluster based on the standards expected of the Vintage Selection Cabernets. However, twenty years later this wine is stunning. It offers rich fruit, cassis, dried herbs and roses, spice, dusty cocoa, and black pepper. The tannins are high yet integrated, it has great structure and length. Aged 26 months in French oak with 13.7% alcohol.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>2003 Vintage Selection Cabernet Sauvignon</strong> is a blend of 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Petite Verdot, 4% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc, and 1% Syrah. It is young and full of life. Notes of cherry, plum, spice, roses, cassis, sweet tobacco, cedar, and licorice are layered on the palate. It&rsquo;s rich and opulent &mdash; yet elegant &mdash; with high tannins and acidity, full body, long finish. Aged 20 months in French oak, with 13.6% alcohol.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> In 2011, Charles Krug hired Winemaker Stacy Clark to carry on the family&rsquo;s vision. She collaborates with Peter Mondavi Jr. in overseeing the winemaking operations. Mondavi Jr. says, &ldquo;Stacy has a way of bring balance to all our wines. She is an artist &ndash; constantly blending and re-blending, experimenting with picking the same vineyards at different times, always in pursuit of balance.&rdquo; The following two wines are not yet available but are made under the guidance of Stacy Clark.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>2015 Vintage Selection Cabernet Sauvignon</strong> is a blend of 96% Cabernet Sauvignon and 4% Petit Verdot. We tasted a bottle sample; the wine will be released in fall 2018. It is markedly different from its predecessors, with candied violets, spice, vanilla, sweet tobacco.&nbsp; It is ripe, opulent, and juicy, while pronounced, grippy tannins stand at attention in a wine that is much more luscious than any we had tasted &mdash; no surprise at 15.8% alcohol. This wine will need time to integrate and reveal the hidden gems of its predecessors.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>2016 Vintage Selection Cabernet Sauvignon</strong> introduces fruit from Cold Springs Vineyard on Howell Mountain blended with grapes from both Slinsen and Voltz Vineyards in Yountville. It is a barrel sample but I&rsquo;m told it is close to the final blend. (I prefer not to publish notes on a wine that is still developing and will not be released until fall 2019.)<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Tasting through the older Vintage Selection wines felt like opening a time capsule. The wines sharing moments of days past, evidence of evolution and experimentation with vineyards, blends, clones, oak protocols, &eacute;levage, and alcohol percentage, each providing insight to a family&rsquo;s traditions and pursuit of excellence.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> &ldquo;The history, legacy, experience, and wisdom that this family has are our strongest and most enduring attributes,&rdquo; notes Peter Mondavi Jr., &ldquo;Experience matters. At the same time, we have to be forward-thinking, youthful, and willing to experiment with our methods to stay ahead of the curve.&rdquo;</p> Fri, 24 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0400 article7057 This is a big piece of California wine history. Mark Angelillo <p>Last month, in the company of forty-five wine writers, I caught up with Murrieta&rsquo;s Well winemaker Robbie Meyer. We tasted through a selection of his latest wines, and I continue to be absolutely floored by Robbie&rsquo;s work. The Murrieta&rsquo;s Well property provides a base of superior ingredients, and Robbie uses them to great advantage.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The Murrieta&rsquo;s Well property has been farmed for over one hundred and thirty years, thus establishing a true core of California&rsquo;s wine heritage. In the 1830s, winery namesake Joaquin Murrieta brought horses to drink from the property&rsquo;s naturally available groundwater &ndash; rife with nutrients from the mineral-rich soils. &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> By the 1880s, wine pioneer Louis Mel had seized upon the property as the ideal spot for grape vines, recognizing its similarities to Europe&rsquo;s great properties. Vine cuttings from famous Bordeaux Chateau (including d&rsquo;Yquem and Margaux) were brought over to establish the vineyard land at Murrieta&rsquo;s Well. Grapes have been grown on the land ever since. To me, this renders Murrieta&rsquo;s Well a cultural touchstone for wine lovers around the world.<br /> Combine the property itself with unrivaled attention to detail and the magic really starts to unfold. Robbie considers each acre, each vineyard plot, each row of vines, each grape &ndash; and yes, each leaf &ndash; as individuals. This pushes the wines&rsquo; quality-to-price ratio off the charts. There aren&rsquo;t any textbook formulas here; it&rsquo;s a dynamic relationship with nature that helps to create these masterpiece wines.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Take leaf layers. Robbie considers the leaf shape of each plant. When it comes to Sauvignon Blanc, for example, he wants to make sure that at least one leaf protects the cluster from direct sunlight. Careful leaf pruning will achieve &ldquo;dappled light in the fruit zone&rdquo;, Robbie says. These wines are hand-crafted, in the most literal sense of the term.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The next best thing to tasting the wines is visiting the property. Be sure to add Murrieta&rsquo;s Well to your fall wine travel plans. Take a tour through the vines, taste some wines in the historic barrel room, and sample a few custom food pairings. In the meantime, <a href=""><strong>watch the virtual tasting here</strong></a>. Tasting notes and links to purchase are below.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Murrieta&rsquo;s Well The Whip White Blend Livermore Valley 2016</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Orange and tangerine notes are lightly floral and creamy with fresh minerality and hints of lime zest. Fresh, perky acidity on the palate with creamy orange notes, tea leaf and a finish of green apple and floral white peach.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Murrieta&rsquo;s Well Small Lot Sauvignon Blanc Livermore Valley 2017</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Mineral citrus aromas with tropical fruit notes of pineapple with lemon zest and green apple. Fresh minerality and bold acidity on the palate with lemon drop fruit and a creamy textured palate of lightly green melon and fresh peach.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Murrieta&rsquo;s Well Dry Rose Livermore Valley 2017</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Nicely expressive rose petal and watermelon fruit aromas. Impressive depth of fruit on the palate with notes of cherry and strawberry, watermelon and cranberry, a touch of smoky earth towards the finish keeps the palate grounded but throughout there&rsquo;s a crisp acidity that plays well against the fruit.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Murrieta&rsquo;s Well The Spur Red Blend Livermore Valley 2015</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Floral aromas of fresh licorice, black cherry and blackberry, a touch of green pepper and spice adding some complexity and a creamy vanilla note. This is lively and fun on the palate with juicy and jammy black cherry and purple fruit, fun cinnamon, vanilla bean and black pepper spice, gentle tannins and good acidity throughout.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Murrieta&rsquo;s Well Small Lot Cabernet Sauvignon Livermore Valley 2015*</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Austere and elegant aromas of vanilla and cream with mixed berry and black currant. Full palate of black currant and blackberry, this is cool and juicy with nutty chocolate notes, dried fruit notes of prune and dates with a tart plum skin freshness and a finish of vanilla bean, cinnamon and oak spice.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> *Pre-release. <a href=""><strong>Get the 2014 here</strong></a>.</p> Tue, 07 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0400 article7055 Brazilian Sparklers Make a Summer Splash Mark Angelillo <p>I don&rsquo;t see nearly enough sparkling wine from Brazil on restaurant menus and in retail shops. It makes sense, really, since the industry did not begin making strides in foreign markets until the 1990s. Brazil&rsquo;s wine industry is nascent, relatively speaking. And while the focus of this article is on sparkling wine, I don&rsquo;t hesitate to recommend still wines from the region. Forty million liters of wine are produced in Brazil each year, and just under half of it (18.7 million liters) is comprised of sparkling wine. You&rsquo;d overlook a whole lot of juice if you focused on the region&rsquo;s sparkling wine alone.<br /> That said, Brazil has been a sparkling wine powerhouse for the last century. The wines are made in both the traditional and Charmat methods. There&rsquo;s always something to appreciate in all styles and at all price points. The variation testifies to the region&rsquo;s growing legion of creative winemakers. There are roughly eleven hundred wineries in Brazil working with two hundred grape varieties. Ninety percent of the wineries use grapes from small, family-owned plots of vineyard land.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Brazil&#39;s major sparkler grapes are Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Italian Riesling, also known as <a href="">Welschriesling</a> or Gravesina. The latter-most delivers Brazil&rsquo;s signature twist on sparkling wine. It brings a lively, acidic backbone that&rsquo;s hard to find elsewhere. Charmat sparklers often use one of some members of the Muscat family. These are fun, fizzy wines guaranteed to please large crowds.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Terroir plays a role here, too. The sloping valleys of Brazil were carved by lava flow. The basaltic soils resulting from the lava impart trademark characteristics. You will find striking mineral notes with dashes of distant (and distinct) ash. Thin top soils promote positive struggle for the vines. Rain fall is well-drained owing to the porous basaltic soils.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Lastly, you can&#39;t talk about Brazil without mentioning Italy and its people. A wave of immigration in the late 19th century brought Italian immigrants, many from the Veneto region, to Brazil. The impact is felt in country&#39;s wine, food, and culture.&nbsp;The Italians pounced on the gentle slopes of red soils that reach to the Atlantic Ocean and onto the high plateaus and through the hills to grow grapes like never before.&nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Now, what to taste? I do have a few suggestions, of course. Here are my top three Brazilian sparklers of the moment.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Casa Valduga Brut Rose Brazil NV</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Founded in 1875, Casa Valduga helped put Brazil on the map. This sparkler is made in the traditional method with a combination of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. You can pick up a bottle for under twenty dollars - an astounding value. 90 points.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Pizzato Nature D.O. Vale dos Vinhedos 2013</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> The Pizzato family (originally from the Veneto) has grown grapes in Brazil for over a century. The winery was founded in 1999 to showcase some of their best stuff. These are vintage bubbles made in the traditional method. I am hoping to see more from this producer available in the United States. 90 points.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Miolo Cuvee Tradition Brut Serra Gaucha NV</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Giuseppe Miolo immigrated from the Veneto to Brazil in 1897. The winery opened in 1990, and it continues to be operated by the third and fourth generations of the Miolo family. Again I am impressed with the value on this bottle - usually under twenty dollars. 91 points.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Click here</strong></a> for a full list of favorites that I&rsquo;ve tasted from Brazil this year, sparkling and still.</p> Fri, 27 Jul 2018 00:00:00 -0400 article7053 When mercury is rising, drink this wine. John Downes <p>I&rsquo;ve just been booked to present masterclasses in Sydney and Melbourne in October. An Australian spring always excites me as I leave a chilly, autumnal England for sunny Oz, usually after a disappointing summer. But not this year. As I write the thirty-degree sun is beating down on my office window and the forecast is for more of the same. So, as you can guess, crisp dry whites are flying off the shelves, including an old Portuguese friend that&rsquo;s now back in favour; a chilled glass of Vinho Verde is again a popular choice on Blighty&rsquo;s sun-drenched patios.&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Vinho Verde was pooh-poohed for years but is now making a welcome comeback which is not surprising for as well as being a terrific thirst quencher, it&rsquo;s famously good with barbequed seafood and makes a mean aperitif. With an alcohol level of just 12% by volume, VV&rsquo;s citrus fruit, mineral overtones and mouth-watering acidity, sometimes lifted with a touch of frizzante, hits the spot when the mercury&rsquo;s rising.&nbsp; <br /> This famous wine is so called, one Portuguese winemaker told me, as it&rsquo;s made to be drunk and enjoyed when it&rsquo;s young. Another said it was because the wine has a green tinge in the glass. You pays your money and takes your choice.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Vinho Verde comes from the green, rolling granitic-based vineyards in the top north-west corner of Portugal where the influential Atlantic Ocean provides a mild, often rainy climate ideal for crisp white wine production. My anorak <em>Snoothers</em> may be interested to know that the region&rsquo;s varying microclimates have resulted in the creation of nine sub regions, namely Amarante, Ave, Bai&atilde;o, Basto, C&aacute;vado, Lima, Mon&ccedil;&atilde;o e Melga&ccedil;o, Paiva and Sousa.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> &lsquo;VV&rsquo; is generally made from a blend of local grapes, Loureiro, Pederna and the fashionable Alvarinho. In case you&rsquo;re wondering, Alvarinho is the same grape as the Spanish Albarino, the variety of Rias Baixas, the increasingly popular blanco that hails from vineyards across the border, just up the road in Galicia. Whilst we&rsquo;re &lsquo;talking grapes&rsquo;, Pederna goes under the name of Arinto in other regions of Portugal.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> I&rsquo;m always pleased when a winemaking region sticks to its indigenous varieties as opposed to following the crowd and planting the likes of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Bravo to Vinho Verde and Rias Baixas!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Following fermentation in temperature controlled stainless steel vats (to retain the aromas and flavours) the wine is generally rested in the cool cellars for a short time before bottling. It&rsquo;s worth noting that the winemakers don&rsquo;t go for oak barrel ageing as they want to produce a clean, fresh, zippy, citrus wine for crisp early drinking. &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Melbourne is famous for its &lsquo;four seasons in one day&rsquo; climate but Sydney in October glories in&nbsp;&nbsp; delightful mid-twenties sunshine. I think I&rsquo;ll welcome the Sydneysiders with a glass of crisp Vinho Verde before they &lsquo;Become a Wine Expert in 60 minutes&rsquo; or start their journey to mastering Champagne and Burgundy. Or should that be Vinhoz Verde? Either way, they&rsquo;ll love it!</p> Fri, 20 Jul 2018 00:00:00 -0400 article7052 This is America’s Most Versatile Wine Grape Gabe Sasso <p>The history of Zinfandel in America can be traced back to Italian Immigrants who planted it all over California for a number of reasons including its hearty nature. For that reason it was also the dominant choice of home winemakers in other parts of the country who were purchasing grapes shipped east from California.&nbsp; For years it was thought that Zinfandel was a genetic descendant of Italy&rsquo;s Primitivo. However genetic testing discovered that both Zinfandel and Primitivo are genetic matches for the Croatian grape Crljenak Ka&scaron;telanski.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Over time Zinfandel fell out of favor in comparison to some other varieties and a number of great old vineyards were pulled out. Some were actually saved because they were being used for the production of White Zinfandel. Many of those parcels are now the source of some great Single Vineyard Zinfandels. Old Vines matter for Zinfandel as much as any other grape, and more than most. There are many Zinfandel Vineyards in California over 50 and 100 years old, some dating to the 1800&rsquo;s. When they produce less fruit and struggle somewhat to give what they do, the results are often naturally more intense and layered with character a younger vine simply isn&rsquo;t capable of.<br /> A sense of place is as important for Zinfandel as any grape. Single vineyard Pinot Noirs get a lot more press attention but the truth is that site to site variance for Zinfandel is even more dynamic. Zinfandel thrives in nearly all of California&rsquo;s regions, and brings different characteristics to the forefront depending on place. While Zinfandel flourishes all over California, there are a few areas few that really raise the flag on what has become the Heritage grape of the Golden State.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Dry Creek Valley</strong> &ndash; Located in Northern Sonoma County Dry Creek Valley is home to some of the best Zinfandels in the world. A number of multi-generational family producers in Dry Creek Valley are focused on Zinfandel which is their signature red grape. The classic Dry Creek Valley Zinfandels have structure, spice, and proportionate fruit in common. Some of the most famous and well regarded single vineyard parcels of Old Vine Zinfandel call Dry Creek Valley home.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Lodi</strong> &ndash; This Central California region is home to a number of heritage old vine Zinfandel vineyards. A group of winemakers there founded &ldquo;The Native Project.&rdquo; Each winemaker commits to producing a Zinfandel each year from a true Old Vines Vineyard. Winemaking protocols are the same across the board and all that changes is the fruit source. This project really highlights how important site is to Zinfandel. Lodi Zinfandels tend to have and abundance of fruit. Tended properly they can also be well structured.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Napa Valley</strong> &ndash; Due to the popularity of Cabernet Sauvignon and the prices it can fetch there&rsquo;s not nearly as much Zinfandel in California&rsquo;s most famous wine growing region as there once was. However the old vines that do exist can produce excellent wines. Great Napa Valley Zinfandels are loaded with red fruit, proportionate and structured, often with more tannins then Zinfandel from many other regions.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Paso Robles</strong> &ndash; Initially known for big, fruity Zinfandel, there are now more producers focused on wines of structure and nuance that still have those fruity flavors Paso is famous for. Diverse climatic conditions in various parts of Paso Robles also assure lots of variance within the region for factors outside of site alone.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Russian River Valley</strong> &ndash; While It&rsquo;s best known for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay these days, cool, foggy Russian River Valley is the source of distinct Zinfandels too. The Zinfandels from here tend to feature lots of spice and fruit that is a bit more reticent in nature. Great Russian River Valley Zinfandels tend to age very well due in no small part to the wonderful acid they feature.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Well-made Zinfandel is fruity, balanced and a versatile food wine. Whether you&rsquo;re having a classic Italian Sunday Dinner, Smoked Brisket, Pizza, Traditional Mexican cuisine or so much more the terrific fruit, acid and structure of great Zinfandel is a great pairing choice. And of course there is no better pairing with the most of American of meals, The Burger, than Zinfandel.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Suggested Bottles:</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Cline Cellars 2016 Old Vine Zinfandel &ndash; Lodi ($11)</strong><br /><br /> Red fruit aromas and hints of vanilla lead the way. The soft palate is stuffed with strawberry. Bits of tea emerge on the finish. This is a great value and would make a god choice as an everyday house red.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Angry Bunch Winery 2016 Zinfandel &ndash; Lodi ($18)</strong><br /><br /> Hints of tar emerge on the nose alongside black cherry. Sweet red raspberry jam and black pepper are evident on the palate. A hint of leather shows up on the above average finish.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Oak Ridge Winery 2014 Moss Roxx Zinfandel &ndash; Lodi ($23)</strong><br /><br /> Black raspberry aromas explode from the nose here. White pepper and blackberry are evident on the palate. Bits of chocolate sauce dot the long finish.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Redhaus Wines 2015 Ancient Craft Old Vine Zinfandel &ndash; Lodi ($25)</strong><br /><br /> The aromas bring to mind a bowl of fresh, ripe red and black cherries. The plate is studded with black raspberry and plum. Bits of cinnamon and clove emerge on the finish.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Pedroncelli 2015 Bushnell Vineyards Zinfandel &ndash; Dry Creek Valley ($26)</strong><br /><br /> Black pepper and savory herb aromas underpin raspberry aromas. Blackberry, dark chocolate shavings and a core of spices drive the full flavored and well-proportioned palate. Earth and hints of vanilla close things out. Delicious today this Zin will age gracefully.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Bella Grace Vineyards 2015 Old Vine Zinfandel &ndash; Amador County ($28)</strong><br /><br /> Red and black fruit aromas are joined by hint of bay leaf. Plum flavors and associated spice characteristics are evident on the juicy palate. The finish is lush and stuffed with a continuing m&eacute;lange of red and black fruit flavors.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Ridge Vineyards 2016 East Bench Zinfandel &ndash; Dry Creek Valley ($32)</strong><br /><br /> Dark fruit aromas and hints of savory herb burst from the glass upon the first whiff. The palate is filled with black raspberry and blackberry accompanied by a nice complement of spices. Wisps of earth are evident on the long finish.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Artezin 2015 Collins Vineyard Zinfandel &ndash; Russian River Valley ($35)</strong><br /><br /> Red and black violet aromas lead the way. Flavors of red plum and raspberry are accompanied by hints of Bay Leaf. Sour plum, spice and bits of dark chocolate are all evident on the long, clingy finish.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Ravenswood 2015 Dickerson Vineyard Zinfandel &ndash; Napa Valley ($37)</strong><br /><br /> Red plum and candied strawberry aromas burst forth from the glass. Blackberry, oodles of spice and lite savory herbs are all part of the substantial palate. Sour red raspberry and bits of earth dot the prodigiously long finish.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Peachy Canyon 2016 Willow Vineyard Zinfandel &ndash; Paso Robles ($42)</strong><br /><br /> Red raspberry and white pepper aromas emerge with conviction once this wine is poured.&nbsp; Black cherry, raspberry and hints of red plum drive the palate which shows off an intense purity of fruit. Gentle bits of earth, spice and a tiny speckle of tar are all evident on the finish.</p> Fri, 13 Jul 2018 00:00:00 -0400 article7049 Meaningful Wine Letters: GSM John Downes <p>Fancy a bit of GSM to liven up your holiday? Is this your first time? Don&rsquo;t worry, a couple of Australian reds and a Rhone Ranger will soon get your taste buds into the swing of things.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> If you hear a wine snob talking about &lsquo;GSM&rsquo;, it has nothing to do with &rsquo;50 Shades of Grey&rsquo;, he&rsquo;s just spouting off about a blend of grapes; <a href="">Grenache</a>, <a href="">Syrah</a> and <a href="">Mourvedre</a>, the typical southern Rhone Valley trio that&rsquo;s exciting winemakers across the world.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> I was in Western Australia&rsquo;s beautiful Margaret River and was privileged to spend a couple of hours with two of Australia&rsquo;s best known winemakers. Perched in their tasting room overlooking the vineyards I remember their total passion for the southern Rhone varieties, &ldquo;they are perfectly at home in our Mediterranean climate&rdquo;, they told me.<br /> The well-known Australian winemakers to whom I refer are Murray McHenry and David Hohnen. Their cracking GSM goes under the &ldquo;3 Amigos&rdquo; label, (2015, $25). For the mathematically minded, it&rsquo;s 35% Grenache, 43% Shiraz and 19% Mourvedre (and 3% Marsanne, the white Rhone variety). The sharp eyed Snoother will notice that the back label says that the &lsquo;M&rsquo; stands for the Mataro; &lsquo;don&rsquo;t panic it&rsquo;s simply another name for Mourvedre. &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Then there&rsquo;s Australian winemaker Grant Burge&rsquo;s Holy Trinity 2012 ($35). It is a blend of Grenache (38%), Shiraz (34%) and Mourvedre (28%). Each of the three varieties are hand-picked from old, dry grown bush vines in the baking Barossa Valley, the youngest being about 50 years old, the oldest well over 100 years old.&nbsp; Each of the three varieties are vinified separately, the final blend being aged in large vats and smaller oak barrels for 18 months, resulting in vibrant blueberry aromas, rich cherry, blackberry plum flavours and a spicy liquorice finish that will have you reaching for another glass. In case you&rsquo;re wondering, Syrah is called Shiraz in Oz.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> I&rsquo;m a big fan of Cotes du Rhone reds as they offer good value the world over and rarely let you down. Guigal is arguably the most famous producer in the Rh&ocirc;ne Valley so you&rsquo;re in safe hands with their Cotes du Rhone rouge, (2014, $20). Founded by &Eacute;tienne Guigal in Ampuis in 1946, his son Marcel has played an important part in the region&rsquo;s resurgence over the last few decades. Marcel&rsquo;s son Philippe, the third generation of Guigal winemakers, continues the family&rsquo;s proud traditions. Although you&rsquo;ll struggle to find the title &lsquo;GSM&rsquo; on a southern Rhone Valley label, Guigal&rsquo;s Cotes du Rhone is a &lsquo;GSM&rsquo; as it has a small percentage of Mourvedre in the blend &ldquo;to add a little complexity to the Grenache and Syrah&rdquo;. This medium to full bodied red with its crisp, blackberry plum and pepper spice overtones will also reward a few years in the cellar but, that said, it&rsquo;s also drinking well tonight!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> How about comparing Grant Burge&rsquo;s full blooded Barossa Valley GSM, McHenry Hohnen&rsquo;s&nbsp; &lsquo;restrained New World&rsquo; Margaret River GSM and Guigal&rsquo;s traditional Cotes du Rhone with friends this weekend. All the wines are completely different, all completely delicious. Who can&rsquo;t resist a bit of GSM?</p> Mon, 02 Jul 2018 00:00:00 -0400 article7046 This is Sicily’s Answer to White Wine Cathrine Todd <p>One can travel all over Italy and still have no sense of Sicily, as Sicily is like no other place. It is probably one of the most diverse regions in Europe with not only a long history of a multitude of conquerors, but to this day, an evident openness to various cultures. This open attitude towards diversity is expressed by the architecture, food, and wines along with the sea of faces ranging from pale skin and blond hair to Mediterranean olive skin and brown curly hair to dark skin and woolly, black hair. Northern Europe, North Africa and Greece are just a few of the influences that meld so wonderfully with the Italian culture within this lovely island. Sicily offers a beauty that is multifaceted and complex&hellip; it is the only place that I can think of that would place so much of their quality white wine focus on a grape variety such as Grillo.<br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Grillo</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Although Sicily is sometimes thought of as just another Italian wine region, when it comes to wines, it could be considered its own continent. The range of soils, climates as well as grape varieties makes Sicily not so easy to understand in regards to wine unless one devotes a significant amount of time dissecting it. In fact, according to Antonio Rallo, president of the Consiglio di Tutela that supervises the DOC Sicilia, there are 76 autochthonous (indigenous) varieties currently in production in Sicily; so their choice of picking Grillo as the white wine they promote to the world gives an insight into some deep core Sicilian beliefs.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Over the past few years, Grillo has been spoken about a lot, but it always seemed like it was an ancient Sicilian white grape variety that was finally getting the focus for its quality wine potential - but that is actually not the case. In the beginning of May, Master of Wine Robin Kick revealed that it was an intentional crossing of Catarratto Bianco and Zibibbo (Muscat of Alexandria) in Agrigento, Sicily in 1869 by Baron Antonio Mendola, an agronomist and expert of grape varieties, with the first grapes appearing in 1874. Even some Italian grape variety experts are lacking this knowledge and have previously incorrectly hypothesized that it is an indigenous variety of Puglia; some experts realize it is a crossing but do not know it was an intentionally human-created one. Robin Kick, however, was sent a copy of the document that proved it was created by Baron Mendola.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Grillo benefits from the aromatic complexity of Zibibbo and the fresh acidity of Catarratto Bianco. It is a variety that is more resistant to disease than Catarratto Bianco and so it usurped many of the Catarratto plantings after phylloxera (the pest that devastated many European vineyards) in the early 1900s. But after World War II, Grillo had a dip in popularity as other varieties that produced higher quantities were favored since there was such a huge demand for wine across Europe during that time.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Marsala &amp; Grillo</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Historically, the grape variety Grillo was mainly known in Sicily as one of the varieties that made Marsala fortified wine. Despite Marsala being known as a cooking wine to the rest of the world, those who have been long time Sicilian wine connoisseurs considered the best Marsala, which many of us don&rsquo;t see on our own markets, on par with the greatest fortified wines in the world such as Madeira. And so through time, as Sicily started to focus less on quantity and more on quality (40% less vineyards today and very low yields with an average of 50 hl/ha noted by Antonio Rallo) the leaders in the Sicilian wine world decided that a focus on Grillo would be part of their plan to raise Sicily&rsquo;s wine quality.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Today there is an array of Grillo wines that range from herbaceous to fruity to perfume notes and can be light and bright or big and rich; some may seem more like Sauvignon Blanc, others like Viognier, and many a combination of both. Sicilian wine producers have been able to identify two biotypes (aka clones) that are labeled A and B to make things simple yet there are quite a few Grillo vines that are not identified as either and so they are still discovering this variety&rsquo;s potential.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Sicily&rsquo;s belief in Grillo is so strong that, as of 2017, the variety can only be noted on approved Sicilia DOC bottles.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Sicilia DOC</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> The protection and promotion of Sicilia DOC wines by the Consorzio di Tutela Vini Doc Sicilia has been evident since its establishment in 2012 by the Assovini Sicilia (a group of small to large size wine producers); not only was there an increase of 9.96% of bottles purchased that had Sicilia DOC on the label, but also an increase of 21.81% of bottles mentioning Sicily at all (figures comparing 2016 to 2017 sales). Grillo is part of Sicily&rsquo;s wine success story, seeing a sales increase of 23% for wines that mention the variety. And that commitment to excellence will only accelerate in the future as they study new local strains of yeast that could potentially improve wine quality and find more autochthonous (indigenous) grape varieties that go way beyond the 76 currently in production.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Improving by Diversifying DNA</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> The mayor of Palermo, Leoluca Orlando said of Sicilian wine, &ldquo;&hellip;it is fair to say that we have managed to reconcile the roots and the wines of our existence. A metaphor indicating our respect for the past and commitment to the future.&rdquo; On the last day of Sicilia en Primeur 2018, he adamantly said that all immigrants are welcomed to Palermo and to Sicily as a whole as diversity is part of their success of a people and why Palermo, the capital of Sicily, was recently named &ldquo;Italian Capital of Culture for 2018&rdquo;. &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Sicilians deeply appreciate that it is the mixing of cultures and DNA of people that makes it such a special place and they are investing in that idea; there is no better representation of that then their passion for Grillo, a mix of two beloved Sicilian grapes. No other region has stood so strongly behind a crossing but Sicily proudly does. They know that the mixing of people have enriched them a thousand times over and so it makes sense that it would create one of their best white wines.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Grillo Recommendations from Sicilia en Primeur 2018</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>NV Fazio, Spumante Brut, Grillo, Sicilia DOC:</strong> Charmat method sparkling wine. Lemon confit, creamy bubbles, and saline minerality &ndash; only 4g/l residual sugar.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>2017 Caruso &amp; Minini, &ldquo;Timpune&rdquo;, Grillo, Sicilia DOC:</strong> A Grillo that comes from a high altitude vineyard at the top of a hill with 20 days in used barrels. Citrus zest, linear body with lots of energy and a textural contrast on the body.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>2017 Firriato, &ldquo;Caeles&rdquo;, Grillo, Sicilia DOC:</strong> An organic wine that is vegan certified with exotic flavors of mango and spice with hints of rosemary on the finish.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>2017 Donnafugata Sur Sur, Sicilia DOC:</strong> 100% Grillo. Floral and sweet peaches on the nose with a medium body and a zingy finish.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>2017 Cusumano, &ldquo;Shamaris&rdquo;, Grillo, Sicilia DOC:</strong> If I didn&rsquo;t know what this wine was, I would have sworn it was Viognier with its intense perfume and rich stone fruit, yet it had a fresh acidity that gave it energy on the palate.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>2017 Baglio del Cristo di Campobello, Grillo, Sicilia DOC:</strong> Made from chalky soils, this wine shows Grillo&rsquo;s expression of terroir with fierce minerality that is accompanied by a bright backbone of acidity that has plenty of rich fruit to make this wine delicious as well as ethereal.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Cantine Florio, &quot;Donna Franca&quot;, Marsala Superiore Riserva DOC:</strong> 100% Grillo fortified wine that is an ideal example of great Marsala. Blend of Marsala aged from 15 to 30 years in oak barrels. Grilled figs, Mediterranean scrub, candied orange rind, hint of vanilla and finishing with roasted almonds all wrapped around a velvety texture. 19% abv and 93g/l residual sugar.<br /><br /> </p> Thu, 28 Jun 2018 00:00:00 -0400 article7045 Rosé Has Jumped the Shark Mark Angelillo <p>Hasn&rsquo;t it? When we started Snooth back in 2007, ros&eacute; was not such a hot button topic. Its growth over the past eleven years is astounding. Nielsen reports that sales of still ros&eacute; have risen sixty-five percent since last year. Sparkling ros&eacute; sales jumped by sixteen percent. The funny thing is, we can assume that prior to direct pressing most all wines looked like a ros&eacute;. It was the notoriously sophisticated Romans who brought winemaking to a place where color gradations could be created. If not for their ingenuity, perhaps we&rsquo;d have been drinking ros&eacute; all along.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Regardless, ros&eacute; has most always existed in its own class.&nbsp; Clairet from Bordeaux is an example of ros&eacute; wine that dates back centuries. While it was always possible to find quality ros&eacute; wine from Europe, most early-to-mid twentieth century Americans considered the wines too simple. It was down-market juice for the unserious drinker. <em>The grapes weren&rsquo;t grown with ros&eacute; wine in mind. It&rsquo;s just run-off juice used to enhance the color of a red wine (as in the saign&eacute;e, or bleeding method.) It&rsquo;s just a red wine and a white wine mixed together</em>. (These days, with the exception of ros&eacute; Champagne, mixing is not permitted in the European Union. It is permitted in the New World.)<br /><br /> <br /><br /> So how exactly did we become a nation of ros&eacute;-philes?<br /> The rise of ros&eacute; indicates that the wine cellar guard has changed. A new generation of wine drinkers is democratizing consumption in heretofore unseen ways. That&rsquo;s great news for everyone here &ndash; yes, more people are drinking wine. Many wine writers have worked tirelessly to make wine more accessible and inclusive. And to me, the rise of ros&eacute; is proof of their success. The wine industry is booming because there&rsquo;s more for everybody to enjoy no matter your taste or price point. Inclusivity is one of the main tenets upon Snooth was built, and I couldn&rsquo;t be more proud.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> But now that everyone has jumped on the ros&eacute; bandwagon, where are we headed? Many of the great brands have made their first ros&eacute;s in just the past few years, and most do not disappoint. The majority of them are intentional &ndash; the grapes are grown with the ros&eacute; wine in mind. But while imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, we should remain vigilant as we wade through the great twenty-first century ros&eacute; glut.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> I always taste ros&eacute; at room temperature to start. While this is a fairly common wine adjudication practice, I find it particularly important when it comes to ros&eacute;. If it doesn&rsquo;t taste okay to you when it&rsquo;s slightly warm, there&rsquo;s probably a better bottle out there.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Here are my top five ros&eacute; wines for the 2018 season. For a longer list of good bets, <a href="">click here</a>.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Field Recordings French Camp Vineyards Valdiguie&nbsp;</strong><strong>Ros&eacute;</strong><strong>&nbsp;Paso Robles 2017</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em>If you&rsquo;re going to join one new winery club this year, make it Field Recordings. Winemaker Andrew Jones knows how to pick &lsquo;em when it comes to grape vines. His intimate knowledge of the California coast has created some superior selections.</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Strawberry with hay and barley aromas, a touch of cherry and some citrus notes on the nose. This is a bit biscuity on the palate with loads of citrus zest and sparkly acidity, cherry, grapefruit and tangerine fruit, some melon rind and a finish of warm spice and a creamy texture.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Field Recordings Creston Ridge Vineyard Sangiovese Ros&eacute; Paso Robles 2017</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Fresh peach and dried persimmon notes with a hint of something herbal and a bit of fresh melon. Zesty and bright on the palate with orange leaf, creamsicle and strawberry notes with a really pleasant fresh pumpkin note and a floral finish. Truly intriguing and a nice departure from the norm.<br /><br /> 91 pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Clean Slate Pinot Noir Ros&eacute; Nahe 2017</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em>Clean Slate is well-known for Riesling from the Mosel, but they also deliver on this easy-drinking delight. Buy twelve or more for your next barbecue and please the entire crowd.</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Clean and light notes of strawberry and pink grapefruit on the nose. Very expressive palate of juicy citrus fruit - grapefruit and lemon with some cherry and strawberry notes with a lightly floral halo. Lots of buoyant acidity, fresh melon and a finish with a bit of apple and a touch of creaminess.<br /><br /> 90 pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Domaine Bousquet Malbec Cabernet Ros&eacute; Tupungato Valley 2018</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em>This winery, a jewel of the Andes mountains, has become a fast favorite of mine. The potpourri of grapes in this ros&eacute; will make your head turn: 55% Malbec, 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Sauvignon Blanc, and 5% Pinot Gris. This is a ros&eacute; you can confidently serve at your next cloth napkin dinner.</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Creamy floral notes of rose petal and watermelon with a spicy pepper note and some soft cherry. Mellow and tart on the palate on entry but developing some zest towards the finish, this is light and easy drinking with strawberry and cherry notes and a chunk of earth alongside the fruit.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Left Coast Cellars&nbsp;Ros&eacute;&nbsp;Willamette Valley 2017</strong><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <em>I can&rsquo;t go too long without having a taste of Oregon. The Pinot Noir (54%), Pinot Meunier (40%), Pinot Blanc (6%) grapes were grown specifically for this wine. Don&rsquo;t pass up the opportunity to visit the five hundred acre estate the next time you pass through the Willamette Valley.</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Crisp, mineral slate and steel aromas with light cherry fruit on the nose. Juicy and pleasant palate of cherry, tangerine and berry flavors, soft, plush body and good acidity, finishing with a nice earthy complexity and a touch of green herb.</p> Fri, 22 Jun 2018 00:00:00 -0400 article7043 Spanish wines know no bounds. John Downes <p>As you can guess, the London Wine Trade calendar is choc-a-block with tastings. If you went to them all you wouldn&rsquo;t have time to work! So, selection is the name of the game. I recently received an invitation from Berry Bros &amp; Rudd to a tasting in their historic St. James&rsquo;s Street cellars; two words turned my head. Vega Sicilia. Three other words sealed it into my diary; vertical, tasting, Valbuena.<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> Vega Sicilia is one of Spain&#39;s most prestigious wine estates and is often referred to as Spain&rsquo;s &quot;first growth&quot;. Located in the &lsquo;Valbuena del Duero&rsquo; south of the River Duero in the Ribera del Duero region of northern Spain, their celebrated hillside vineyards lie at about 650 &ndash; 900 metres above sea level and cover about 250 hectares.<br /> As my anorak readers will know, Vega Sicilia&rsquo;s portfolio is headed by Unico, (Tempranillo with Cabernet Sauvignon), their flagship red, followed by Reserva Especial (a blend of top vintages) and Valbuena. Valbuena is generally made from younger vines (if 20-25 years can be classed as young) and in years when Unico is not produced, the grapes normally destined for Unico go to producing Valbuena. &nbsp;<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> Many commentators refer to Valbuena as Vega Sicilia&rsquo;s &lsquo;second wine&rsquo;. I can&rsquo;t agree. This is&nbsp;&nbsp; a first class wine that I often prefer to Unico. Valbuena 2012 has a bottle price tag of &pound;130 ($200) &hellip; I rest my case.<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> Valbuena is Vega Sicilia&rsquo;s &lsquo;expression of Tempranillo&rsquo; as the wine is dominated by this famous Spanish variety. Merlot also plays a small part for depending on the vintage, between one and six per cent is added to give softness and roundness to the blend.&nbsp; &nbsp;<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> Vega Sicilia was founded in 1864 by Don Eloy Lecanda y Chaves, who arrived from Bordeaux with cuttings of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Malbec under his arm and planted them together with the local hero Tinto Fino, that&rsquo;s Tempranillo to you and me. By 1903 under the ownership of Antonio Herrero the wines were gaining international recognition.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The estate changed hands several times before its acquisition by the present owners, the Alvarez family, in 1982. The family built Vega Sicilia&rsquo;s global reputation throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, a time when classic vintages of Unico (1962, 1964, 1966, 1968, 1970 and 1975) were all readily available.<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> Back to St. James&rsquo;s Street. The Valbuena tasting was hosted by Vega Sicilia&rsquo;s winemaker Gonzalo Iturriaga de Juan who is proudly carrying the Estate&rsquo;s traditions into the new generation. In the vineyard, low yields, individual plot selection, clonal choice, canopy management, green and manual harvesting set the tone, &ldquo;we started making our own compost 32 years ago. We have 55 different soils and Valbuena is taken from about 30 different plots &ndash; we work them all one by one&rdquo;, Gonzalo explains.&nbsp; For the mathematically minded, the vineyards have a 3,0 metre x 1,50 metre grid which means a total of 2,222 vines per hectare with an average yield of 1,0 - 1,50 kilograms of grapes per vine. That&rsquo;ll impress your friends this weekend!<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> Vega Sicilia&rsquo;s meticulous winemaking and unique ageing is also in safe hands with Gonzalo. In the bodega, following fermentation in stainless steel at a controlled maximum temperature of 28 degrees centigrade, the wines undertake a complicated series of rackings from large oak vats to new and old oak barriques. Valbuena is aged in large vats that vary from 8,000 -15,000 litres before being transferred to French and American oak 225 litre barrels, &ldquo;American oak has always been popular at Vega Sicilia. Cooler vintages allow us to us a little more American but that said, we&rsquo;re trying to reduce our use of oak&rdquo;, Gonzalo reveals.&nbsp; &nbsp;<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> Whereas Unico undertakes a long ageing process, (incredibly the celebrated 1970 was aged for 16 years), Valbuena is aged for a total of 5 years, (generally about three in oak, about two in bottle) hence the name &lsquo;Valbuena No.5&rsquo;. For me, the hallmark of the Vega Sicilia portfolio is that even with extended ageing the wines retain a wonderful, mouthwatering freshness; this touch of magic was evident in the Valbuena tasted across an array of vintages on that sunny spring morning in London S.W.1. &nbsp;<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> It was interesting to note that the wines in the vertical tasting each reflected their own individual vintage - 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006 and 1995.&nbsp; &ldquo;Unlike with Unico where it&rsquo;s aged for longer and you lose the vintage a bit&rdquo;, Gonzalo added. &nbsp;<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> Like me, you probably start contemplating suicide when you see a long list of tasting notes so here are notes on my three top wines from the amazing tasting.<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <strong>Valbuena 2011</strong>.&nbsp; Lovely mouthfeel, mouth-watering, good fruit-acid balance, lovely purity of fruit with positive tannins and a gentle sheen of spicy oak, long layered finish. Depth and balance indicate long ageing potential &ndash; 20 years?<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Valbuena 2010</strong>.&nbsp; (&ldquo;A legendary vintage following a near perfect growing season&rdquo;); powerful yet crisp dark fruit with attractive toasty overtones, friendly tannins, cracking purity of fruit, happy lingering finish. Depth and balance indicate long ageing potential &ndash; 20 years?<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Valbuena 2006</strong>.&nbsp;&nbsp; (&ldquo;From a very early vintage, one of the earliest&rdquo;). Sunny, hot vintage reflected in spiced velvety, vibrant black fruit warmth balanced with mouth-watering freshness and integrated tannins. Lovely fruit purity, texture and mouthfeel. Very long. Very fine.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The invitation stood out. The wines stood out. It was a privilege to be there and taste such wonderful wines with the winemaker. &lsquo;I&rsquo;ve just been accused of sitting on the fence with regard to my favourite wine. &ldquo;Was it 2011, 2010 or 2006?&rdquo; &lsquo;Just jumped off &hellip;. 2006! Wow!</p> Mon, 11 Jun 2018 00:00:00 -0400 article7041