Snooth - Articles Read the opinions of wine professionals en-us Wed, 17 Dec 2014 19:12:18 -0500 Wed, 17 Dec 2014 19:12:18 -0500 Snooth Champagne Looks To Harvest UNESCO Designation James Duren <p>France&#39;s Champagne region is looking to end the champagne debate once and for all.<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The region, whose name is used by countless sparkling wine producers who do not produce their wines in Champagne, is looking forward to their July 2015 meeting with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in which the region hopes to achieve official UNESCO World Heritage status.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;Call it an Olympic bid for culture. What&#39;s at stake are the recognition that (the region) is &#39;of outstanding universal value to humanity&#39; and &#39;without equivalent throughout the world&#39;,&rdquo; reported World Crunch in a translation of an article which appeared in French publication Les Echos. &ldquo;Being on the list would be a precious tool to fight against fake &#39;champagnes&#39;&rdquo;.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The UNESCO bid, which, according to Les Echos, has been six years in the making, will bring the sparkling wine mecca its due, Champagnes official regional website said.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;The Champagne winegrowing region is a perfect candidate (for UNESCO),&rdquo; the site said. &ldquo;This is a land unlike any other, home to a unique and enviable wine that is born of a tradition of vine-growing spanning two thousand years of human history.&rdquo;</div><br /> <br /> Champagne&#39;s application for UNESCO chose three sites to represent the region&#39;s bid: the vineyard area between Mareuil-sur-Ay, the Champagne Houses in Reims and along Epernay&#39;s Avenue de Champagne and the network of cellars and chalk pits which are situated beneath the aforementioned three buildings.&nbsp;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> According to the Champagne region&#39;s site, the vineyards listed on the application are &ldquo;one of the most ancient vineyards in the Champagne AOC area.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;Together these three sites present a picture of the Champagne AOC as a whole, whose bid for world heritage listing is built on a common stakeholder commitment&rdquo; to uphold the region&#39;s charter for the protection of the Champagne landscape, the site said.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> If Champagne is able to win world heritage status, the region will be the sixth wine region to gain the UNESCO designation.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> According to Les Echos, France&#39;s Saint-Emilion, Portugal&#39;s Upper Douro Valley, Hungary&#39;s Tokaj Coast, Switzerland&#39;s Lavaux and the Azores&#39; Pico Island are UNESCO World Heritage sites.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Champagne, however, is not the only French region in the running for UNESCO World Heritage status. Winemakers from Burgundy are already seven years into the process of wooing UNESCO. The region is already home to a UNESCO site: the Cistercian Abbey of Fontenay.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Photo Credit: Champagne Council</strong></a></div><br /> </p> Wed, 17 Dec 2014 00:00:00 -0500 article5923 Australian Pyrenees Wine Resort Up For Sale James Duren <p>Now&#39;s your chance to buy that winery-resort about which you&#39;ve always dreamed.<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> An Australian wine news outlet reported this week that Geelong-Otway region Warrenmang Vineyard &amp; Resort is up for sale as the facility&#39;s owners, Athalie and Luigi Bazzani, make preparations for retirement. The Victoria Pyrenees (not to be confused with the Spanish/French Pyrenees) resort will sell for at least $5 million, Property Observer projected.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;The folks behind Warrenmang&hellip;manage to combine homespun hospitality with a classic sense of Italian style,&rdquo; Gourmet Traveler reported in a feature story about wineries in the Pyrenees and Grampians. &ldquo;The cellar door at Warrenmang offers good quality chardonnay and sauvignon blanc for tasting, along with big-flavoured, super-premium reds.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Of the view from the winery&#39;s hillside perch, Gourmet Traveler wrote, &ldquo;You can&#39;t help but be seduced by the surrounding landscape here.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> According to Property Observer, Warrenmang&#39;s place in wine tourism history is a prestigious one.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;Warrenmang is credited as having pioneered the vineyard resort concept in 1989,&rdquo; the site wrote. &ldquo;By the early 1990&#39;s they were distributing the first Japanese-English tourist guide for the Geelong-Otway region.&rdquo;</div><br /> <br /> According to Property Observer, the vineyard is home to a 100-seat restaurant, a cottage and chalet-style lodging for up to 80 people and an activity space for 100 people.&nbsp;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The vineyards feature 28 hectares of space.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> According to a March 2007 article by Australia&#39;s The Courier, this is third time in the past seven years in which the winery-resort has been up for sale.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> A British consortium offered more than $7 million for the property in 2005, the story said, but the group failed to complete the purchase.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> In regards to the 2007 attempt to sell the winery and its facilities, Athalie Bazzani said the couple was ready for someone else to step in and continue the winery&#39;s tradition.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;We thought it would be time for someone else to take over the reins,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;Luigi is always someone who looks into the future and with a business like this you have to keep growing and moving with the times, but there is still plenty of potential for development.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> According to Warrenmang&#39;s website, the property has a hefty list of awards, most of which were garnered in the first few years of the new millennium.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Among the awards are a 2003 Great Wine Capitals of the World Best in Wine Tourism award, a 19 out of 20 rating by The Age in 2006, an American Express selection for Best Regional Restaurant and 17 years of recommendations by Gourmet Traveler.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Photo Credit: Warrenmang Vineyard &amp; Resort</strong></a></div><br /> </p> Wed, 17 Dec 2014 00:00:00 -0500 article5921 UK Winemakers: Mr. Osborne, Take Down That Tax! James Duren <p>Wine and spirits producers in the United Kingdom are urging Chancellor George Osborne to cut the kingdom&#39;s wine and spirits duty by two percent, a move which financial titan Ernst &amp; Young says will free up about &pound;1.5 billion worth of money in the UK&#39;s 2015 public finances, UK trade publication The Grocer reported.<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;By cutting the duty on wine and spirits at the next budget the Chancellor would provide welcome relief for the British public, boost jobs and growth and generate an additional 1.5 billion for the public finances,&rdquo; Wine and Spirit Trade Association Chief Executive Miles Beale told The Grocer.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The move to pressure the Chancellor is part of a joint effort between the Wine and Spirit Trade Association and Scotch Whiskey Association called &ldquo;Drop the Duty!&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The campaign&#39;s efforts will &ldquo;highlight how UK consumers currently pay nearly 80 percent tax on an average priced bottle of spirits and almost 60 percent on an average priced bottle of wine.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> According to the Aberdeen- (Scotland) based &ldquo;The Press and Journal&rdquo;, those percentages translate into a nearly &pound;3 pound fee for the average bottle of wine purchased by consumers, and an average of &pound;10 for every bottle of whiskey purchased by consumers.</div><br /> <br /> The &ldquo;Drop the Duty!&rdquo; has a website at which UK consumers can and send their local government representative an email persuading them to speak up for consumers who want to see the two percent decrease in taxes.<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Also available on the website are various facts about the duty tax and what the economic landscape would look like with the decrease.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> According to the site, the individual UK wine and spirits consumer spends an average of &pound;329 per year in taxes on their wine and spirits purchases. The wine and spirits industry, the site said, pays about &pound;17 million per year in taxes.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;This is not only hurting hard-pressed consumers, but jobs and growth too,&rdquo; Beale said in an interview with The Press and Journal. &ldquo;The Chancellor has one more chance to be fair and cut the duty on wine and spirits before the election.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Beale and his colleagues admit the chances of soliciting a duty cut are slim. According to the Drop the Duty site, it&#39;s been 30 years since the last time the UK government agreed to lower the duty rate on wine and 18 years since the duty on spirits dropped.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>Photo Credit: <a href="">Dave Dougdale</a>, <a href="">Flickr Creative Commons</a></strong></div><br /> </p> Wed, 17 Dec 2014 00:00:00 -0500 article5924 Napa Valley: What To Do With All That Wastewater? James Duren <p>As wastewater trucks lumber their way from California&#39;s Napa Valley to the East Bay, sanitation officials in the famed wine region are trying to come up with a more efficient way to properly process their dirty water.<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> According to a report this week by the North Bay Business Journal, Napa wineries typically handle their waste in one of two ways: through pretreating their wastewater, or through trucking their wastewater to East Bay Utility District&#39;s treatment facility in Oakland.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;Napa Sanitation officials plan to gauge whether demand is worth the cost estimated in a new study to range from the same cost as hauling to Oakland up to 58 percent more,&rdquo; the North Bay Business Journal said.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Officials will meet on January 27th to discuss six options they generated for the aforementioned report, which was presented at a Napa Sanitation District meeting in November.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The first proposed option is for trucks for wineries to bring to Napa Sanitation their untreated process wastewater.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> According to Napa Sanitation, this option would cost 25 percent more than trucking the wastewater to the East Bay Municipal Utilities District&#39;s Oakland location. The wastewater would then be moved to the Napa facility&#39;s aeration basin where supplied oxygen works its magic on contaminants. This option is estimated to be able to handle 10 to 12 trucks per day in the fall months.</div><br /> <br /> Another option is to pretreat wastewater, Napa Sanitation said. This alternative allows Napa to reduce the potency of the wastewater by 40 percent before it heads to the aeration basin. This option comes at a nearly six percent increase over what is currently paid by wineries to ship their wastewater to Oakland.<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Officials also suggested the Napa facility could build new digesters, giant machines which essentially digest a variety of industrial waste like fat and grease. This idea would cost $15 million and would represent a 58 percent increase in costs.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Planners also said Napa Sanitation could add nine new aeration ponds which could support up to 10 trucks per day. The drawback, the report noted, is that solids would build up faster in the ponds. This option represents an 11.7 percent increase in costs.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The final viable option for the district would be to build new pretreatment systems. This option is estimated to cost the same as the current system of disposing of wastewater.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> According to a September article by the Napa Valley Register, the new treatment plans come as the result of pressure from Napa winemakers.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Wineries find themselves in a conundrum, the article said, because they don&#39;t necessarily want to ship their wastewater to Oakland &ndash; the plant receives 74 million gallons of winery wastewater a year &ndash; but keeping their water in Napa requires paying &ldquo;extremely high fees&rdquo; to process their water at local plants.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Photo Credit: Napa Sanitation District &nbsp;</strong></a></div><br /> </p> Wed, 17 Dec 2014 00:00:00 -0500 article5922 California Says Green is the Color of Honor James Duren <p>Next year the environment isn&#39;t the only one who will be thanking California winemakers for their commitment to sustainable winemaking.<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> A team of six different organizations joined together to create the California Green Medal: Sustainable Winegrowing Leadership Awards (SWLA). The new program will host its first awards ceremony next year. In the meantime, the SWLA is accepting applications until January 31.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> According to agricultural news outlet Western Farm Press, &ldquo;more than a dozen regional winery and winegrowing association partners&rdquo; are involved in the promotion of SWLA.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The awards are divided into four categories and are meant to recognize &ldquo;California vineyards and wineries excelling in sustainability,&rdquo; the SWLA&#39;s website said: the Leader Award, the Environment Award, the Community Award and the Business Award.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;California vineyards and wineries that participate in any sustainability program available in California are eligible to apply for up to four award categories,&rdquo; according to a recent story by the Central Valley Business Journal.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Completing an application for a chance at a Green Medal is no easy task.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Entrants must be able to check one of twelve sustainability programs, or be able to provide a program included in the &ldquo;Other&rdquo; category.</div><br /> <br /> Once a sustainability program is chosen, entrants must submit a trio of statements: a 500-word entry describing the type and nature of work pertinent to the category in which the entrant is entering, a 300-word entry describing the measurable results of the efforts and the impact of those results and a 300-word statement about the innovation and/or uniqueness present in the entrant&#39;s efforts.<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Each of these statements are scored on a points system: 20 possible points for the 500-word statement, 20 possible points for the pair of 300-word essay about impact, and 10 possible points for the 300-word essay about innovation and/or uniqueness.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The trio of long-form statements is followed by 13 short-form statements in which entrants must describe their excellence in 13 different categories, including waste management, water-use efficiency and pest management.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> In an interview with Western Farm Press, California Sustainable Wine Awards Executive Director Allison Jordan said the 2015 awards ceremony will bring positive attention to winemakers.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;The new awards program provides an exciting opportunity for California growers and vintners to be recognized for their hard work and dedication to sustainability,&rdquo; Jordan told Western Farm Press.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The awards ceremony will take place at the University of California, Davis on April 10th.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Photo Credit: Lodi Wines</strong></a></div><br /> </p> Tue, 16 Dec 2014 00:00:00 -0500 article5917 Loire on 2014 Harvest: Great Fall Weather, Great Grapes James Duren <p>While parts of Europe suffered through one of the most difficult harvests in the past five years, the Loire Valley enjoyed a relatively successful harvest helped by warm fall temperatures, according to the region&#39;s official harvest report.<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;The unusual shift between the seasons has created a 2014 vintage with great potential,&rdquo; the report said. &ldquo;The unexpected warm weather in autumn produced exceptional wines with finesse and power.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> A long growing season set the stage for the harvest. The winter was a mild one and March experienced dry temperatures which warmed the soil and accelerated grape growth, the report read.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> From April to August, not including several weeks of warmer weather, the region experienced cool temperatures, the report said.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> In terms of vine disease, the report deemed botrytis &ldquo;almost non-existent&rdquo; but noted occurrences of acidic rot and Oidium, a type of fungal spore.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> By the time September rolled around, the region was ready for a profitable harvest.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> An article by the United Kingdom drink industry publication Harpers described the optimism felt in the Loire after two vintages tinged with frost and hail.</div><br /> <br /> &ldquo;September&#39;s warm weather could not come at a better time for producers in the Loire Valley, where there is a feeling of optimism and relief as the harvest gets under way,&rdquo; the September 18th story reported.<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The region&#39;s high spirits were warranted, the Loire harvest report said.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;The excellent weather conditions in autumn allowed for slow maturation where each element fell into places in harmony,&rdquo; it said.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Sugar levels rose because of warm temperatures while cool temperatures at night &ldquo;preserved the fruit and halted the decline in acidity,&rdquo; the report said.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Skins were thick and healthy and they maintained their berry color and aromas.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The good weather gave harvesters the ability to gather their grapes at the point in which the fruit expressed &ldquo;optimal maturity.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> According to the Loire report, the majority of the harvest began on September 29th and finished the first full week of October.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> As for the nuts and bolts of the vintage&#39;s style, the report said the &ldquo;wines reveal consistency and density&rdquo; with subtle high-acidity balanced by &ldquo;the grapes&#39; natural richness.&rdquo; According to the report, Loire&#39;s 2014 white wines have excellent potential.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;For those who favour older vintages, these wines should be able to last a decade or two before enjoying their great aging qualities,&rdquo; the report said.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Photo Credit: Loire Valley</strong></a></div><br /> </p> Tue, 16 Dec 2014 00:00:00 -0500 article5916 Real Holiday Wine for $10 or Less Michael Cavanagh <p><div><br /> As we deck the halls, we should also remember to have wine on the brain while checking off our holiday lists. Wine is a perfect match to the season of joy and whether you&rsquo;re providing the wine for the family party or looking for an extra stocking stuffer, here are ten wines under $10 that will certainly bring joy to the festivities. These value selections do not reveal their true price on the palate, which make them perfect for the large crowds that fill parties and dining rooms throughout December.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Bodegas Pinord NV Dibon Cava Brut Reserve</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> Sparkling wine always makes a good addition to the holiday season. The only problem is finding one that doesn&rsquo;t make you feel like Scrooge while sharing it with others. <a href=""><strong>Catalonia&rsquo;s</strong></a>&nbsp;version often offers great value and this little bubbly from Bodegas Pinord does not disappoint.&nbsp;</div><br /> </div><br /> <br /><br /> <br /> <a href=""><strong>Ch&acirc;teau du C&egrave;dre Cedrus Le Blanc 2012</strong></a><br /> <div><br /> A blend of <a href=""><strong>Colombard</strong></a>&nbsp;and <a href=""><strong>Ugni Blanc</strong></a>, this crisp, light white from Gascogne, France is a perfect way to kick off the festivities and awaken any dozing palate. Combined with a pleasant citrus kick, its clean, vibrant nature makes it a perfect pairing for any family that celebrates the season with oysters on the half shell.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Maculan Pino &amp; Toi 2013</strong>&nbsp;</a></div><br /> <div><br /> For those looking for other lighter-styled, crisp whites, look to the <a href=""><strong>Veneto</strong></a>&nbsp;region of Italy with this blend of Toi (also known as <a href=""><strong>Fruliano</strong></a>&nbsp;in other regions of the country), <a href=""><strong>Pinot Bianco</strong></a>&nbsp;and <a href=""><strong>Pinot Grigio</strong></a>. Very aromatic with fruit and floral notes, this wine is great for an aperitif or paired with starting courses.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Bodegas Valdemar Conde de Valdemar Viura 2013</strong>&nbsp;</a></div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Rioja</strong></a>, the famed region in Spain, is often the place to search for great reds. But this white blend primarily made from <a href=""><strong>Macabeo</strong></a>&nbsp;shows the diversity of the region. Plenty of fruit aromas are carried through the palate, offering a round mouthfeel that can stand up to white meats such as turkey. Suggested SRP $9</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc-Viognier 2013</strong>&nbsp;</a></div><br /> <div><br /> A unique blend of two grapes that would never marry in their homeland of France, this California offering has shown what a beautiful intermingling can produce. <a href=""><strong>Chenin Blanc</strong></a>&nbsp;lends a majority of the blend and gives a slight sweetness that can be a good option for any dish with a touch of heat or a family that has a Christmas Eve sushi ritual.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Charles &amp; Charles Ros&eacute; 2013&nbsp;</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> From the great Northwest comes a <a href=""><strong>Syrah</strong></a>- led Ros&eacute; that balances ripe red fruit characteristics with other savory notes to create an enticing pink wine. Still bringing enough acidity to act as an opening drink, this Ros&eacute; can also make a great pairing for salmon dishes or white meats.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Cono Sur Bicicleta Pinot Noir 2012</strong>&nbsp;</a></div><br /> <div><br /> Finding a solid <a href=""><strong>Pinot Noir</strong></a>&nbsp;under $10 can be a challenge, especially from <a href=""><strong>Chile</strong></a>. Luckily Cono Sur turns that statement on its head. Fruity but not overly jammy, this Pinot brings enough earthy/savory flavors to the party to enjoy the merriment.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Tres Ojos Garancha 2011</strong>&nbsp;</a></div><br /> <div><br /> Although the 14.5% ABV may seem a bit high, this medium-bodied red from Catalonia, Spain has plenty of fruit and spice to balance any alcohol heat. Produced from 40 year old vines, this <a href=""><strong>Garnacha</strong></a>&nbsp;pairs with a wide range of foods and can just as easily be enjoyed sitting around the fire with family and friends.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Bodegas Castano Monastrell 2012</strong>&nbsp;</a></div><br /> <div><br /> Sometimes lesser known regions offer the best values. <a href="http://Murcia"><strong>Murcia</strong></a>, a region in southern Spain, lives up to the bill, especially when it comes to <a href=""><strong>Monastrell </strong></a>. This lighter styled red is full of bright fruit while also having enough tannins to match any dish with a bit of fattiness.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>McManis Petite Sirah 2011</strong>&nbsp;</a></div><br /> <div><br /> Those looking for a more full-bodied red wine would be wise to consider this <a href=""><strong>Petite Sirah</strong></a>&nbsp;from California. Dark fruit aromas and flavors are predominant while oak and other more savory notes balance the wine in the background. If lamb or other rich red meat is on the dinner table, this is a smart choice.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> For more help with pairing wine with traditional holiday dishes, <a href=""><strong>click here</strong></a>.&nbsp;</div><br /> </p> Tue, 16 Dec 2014 00:00:00 -0500 article5900 Battle for the Banknote: Crimean Officials Want Wine Money James Duren <p>Money says a lot of about a country.<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> For Crimea and its up-and-coming vigneron community, money means the opportunity to showcase what makes their region what it is. Earlier this week Crimean officials petitioned the Russian government to issue Crimean cash with images of the country&#39;s vineyards.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> According to a December 12 article by the English version of the Moscow Times, Crimean officials present the Russian government with mock-ups of a 200-ruble bill.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The banknote features &ldquo;images&hellip;intended to channel the Crimean spirit, inspire patriots &ndash; and sell more wine,&rdquo; the Times reported.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The banknote was presented to Russia&#39;s Central Bank by Mikhail Shtyrlin, director of wine distributor Crimean Legend and vice president of the Russian winemaking union, the Times said.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> In an article by Russian publication Izvestia, Shtyrlin said Russia&#39;s recent annexation of Crimea has resulted in a region that is ready to share its culture with mainstream Russian culture.&rdquo;</div><br /> <br /> &ldquo;With due regard to the state, the wine business has the potential for development in the wine growing region on a world scale,&rdquo; Shtyrlin and his Crimean wine colleagues wrote in a letter quoted by Izvestia.&nbsp;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Furthermore, the Izvestia article said, those who drafted the letter said their request isn&#39;t just about the money. The petition for new currency is part of a larger bill in which Crimean winemakers are seeking support of Crimean viticulture, but also the marketing of the region to citizens as the cradle of Russian winemaking.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Currently, according to the Times, Russia&#39;s currency system does not include a 200-ruble bill.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The bill is of varying shades of green. The proposed drawings of Crimean vineyards are located on the backside of the bill. The image of the bill&#39;s back feature a drawing of Crimea&#39;s Ayu-Dag mountain, which stands nearly 2,000 feet tall and whose name means, &ldquo;Bear Mountain&rdquo;.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Below Ayu-Dag is a formidable swath of vineyards which stretch from the foreground of the bill backward to the edge of a sloped hillside.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The front side of the bill features a different viewpoint of Ayu-Dag.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The proposed 200-ruble bill would be the second such piece of currency in Russia today. According to the Moscow Times, Russia&#39;s Central Bank issued 10-ruble coins to commemorate the annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, a move which sparked outrage in the global community.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The Moscow Times reported that the Central Bank, at the time of printing this past Friday, had plans to &ldquo;circulate a Crimea-themed 100-ruble note next year.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Photo Credit: Legend Crimea</strong></a></div><br /> </p> Tue, 16 Dec 2014 00:00:00 -0500 article5915 Portugal Pushing Its Way To The Top of the Crop James Duren <p>Long overshadowed by its nearly all-encompassing big brother to the east, Portugal is finally making its way up the wine charts and providing healthy competition to Spain.<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> This past year, Portugal placed extremely well in several prestigious wine lists, including the oenological coup in which the country snagged the top spot in Wine Spectator&#39;s Top 100 with Dow&#39;s 2011 Vintage Port.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> In an interview with CNBC&#39;s Paul Ames, Portugal winemaker Paul Symington said the country&#39;s rise to international prominence through its fortified wines is no surprise.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;It&#39;s been famous for producing extraordinary ports for over 300 years and it&#39;s got a unique beauty all its own,&rdquo; Symington told CNBC. There are many superlatives you can apply to the Douro. Many of us argue it&#39;s the most beautiful wine-growing area in the world.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Though the port &ndash; produced by Symington&#39;s family-owned winery &ndash; won the glory of the top spot, two other reds from the tiny peninsula nation took home top-5 rankings from Wine Spectator.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The 2011 Chryseia Douro red, a Symington and Bruno Prats collaboration, won third place and Quinta do Vale Meao&#39;s 2011 Douro vinho tinto took home fourth place.</div><br /> <br /> &ldquo;For the last few years, a whole bunch of people have been making some really serious red and white wines here,&rdquo; Symington told CNBC. &ldquo;To get the (top spot)&hellip;to turn a spotlight on the Douro for its red wines as well as its great port, is a remarkable achievement.&rdquo;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Several wine websites lauded the rise of Portugal&#39;s ports and reds, with one site writing the headline &ldquo;Is Portugal the Most Exciting Wine Place on the Planet Today?&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The Los Angeles Times, like many in the wine world, was stunned to learn that a Portugal port had taken the top spot of the year&#39;s wines.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;When the No. 1 wine came up today, it wasn&#39;t a Bordeaux, a California Cabernet, a Spanish Rioja or an Italian Barolo. The shocker is that it&#39;s a wine from Portugal &ndash; and a port,&rdquo; Times reporter S. Irene Virbila wrote on November 14th.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> She went on to say she knew few colleagues who drank port, adding to her astonishment. Later in her story, she pointed out that Portugal&#39;s reds also wowed the wine world.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;But get this,&rdquo; she wrote, &ldquo;two other Portuguese wines from the Douro River Valley cracked the Top 10 this year, a remarkable feat for Portugal.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Photo Credit: Dow&#39;s Port</strong></a></div><br /> </p> Tue, 16 Dec 2014 00:00:00 -0500 article5918 2015 Wine Tourism Conference Heads Eastward James Duren <p>There&#39;s a first time for everything.<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The American wine world is less than a year away from the 2015 National Wine Tourism Conference and a easterners couldn&#39;t be happier. The November conference, which will be held in Loudon County, &nbsp;will mark the first time the event has taken place on the East Coast, according to an article this past week in the Washington Post.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;The conference will offer an exciting opportunity to showcase our award-winning wines and world-class wine industry,&rdquo; Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe told the Post in an interview.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The conference&#39;s Leesburg, Va., location is representative of not only the general rise of East Coast wines, but also the burgeoning success of Virginia wines in particular, the Wine Tourism Conference&#39;s (WTC) website reported in a recent news update.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;Virginia&#39;s wine industry and wine tourism is increasingly important to the state&#39;s tourism as a whole, and the economy,&rdquo; the WTC article said.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The article noted that Loudon County&#39;s Visit Loudon tourism board will also be involved in the conference.</div><br /> <br /> Visit Loudon President Beth Erickson said the conference&#39;s location is a milestone in the Virginia wine industry and that it&rsquo;s an indication of the good things happening in her county and in the state as a whole.<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;Loudon is thrilled to be hosting the 2015 conference,&rdquo; Erickson said in an article in the business section of the Leesburg (Va.) Today.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Virginia&#39;s enthusiasm for being the first East Coast conference home drew praise from the WTC.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;Thank you, Governor McAuliffe and Visit Loudon for your enthusiasm regarding the 2015 Wine Tourism Conference,&rdquo; the WTC article said.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Fittingly, the location of the 2015 conference was announced at the 2014 Wine Tourism Conference this past November in Paso Robles, the Washington Post reported, a decidedly West Coast location and representative of California&#39;s influence in the national and international wine scene.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> According to the WTC website, the first conference took place in 2011 in Napa Valley, followed by Santa Rosa (Calif.), Portland (Ore.) and Paso Robles.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Though far behind the yearly grape production of California, Virginia&#39;s wine industry has seen significant growth in the past few years, the Post reported.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The state ranks fifth in the nation in number of wineries and, according to the Post, the wine industry &ldquo;contributes nearly $750 million to the state economy.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> According to the WTC, a Call for Content will be opened up early next year. Registration is $350 and does not including optional excursions and pre-conference workshops. The conference is designed for the wine and tourism industries, the site said.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Photo Credit: Visit Loudon</strong></a></div><br /> </p> Mon, 15 Dec 2014 00:00:00 -0500 article5910