Snooth - Articles Read the opinions of wine professionals en-us Tue, 19 Jun 2018 14:35:05 -0400 Tue, 19 Jun 2018 14:35:05 -0400 Snooth 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 A Vintage Success Story (To Everyone’s Surprise) Michelle Williams <p>Throughout my global wine travels, the winegrowers I meet offer a unified message: Climate, as expressed through weather, is changing, and chaotic weather patterns are making vintages more difficult and unpredictable.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The 2016 Bordeaux vintage is a case in point. But even after wringing their hands all season, Bordeaux&rsquo;s vignerons have been blessed with one of the best vintages in recent years. Here&rsquo;s what happened.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Here Comes the Rain Again</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> In the fall of 2015, Bordeaux experienced unseasonably warm temperatures. Meteorologists suggested this late heat wave was the result of an ending El Ni&ntilde;o and warned that the coming La Ni&ntilde;a would generate extremes. They were right. The seemingly ceaseless rain started in January 2016, and by the end of that month rainfall totals were the highest since 1926. As it the rains continued, many worried over bud break, but at least the saturated soils helped Bordeaux evade frost, and bud break was spared.<br /> Rain continued in April and May, which were also a roller coaster of temperature swings and violent storms. The chaotic extremes slowed vine growth, but some believe the waterlogged soils were saturated with nitrogen so the vines did not suffer. Flowering began on the Right Bank in late May and was complete on the Left by mid-June, and unsurprisingly the rain led to increased coulure, mildew pressure, and other irregularities. Everyone was wondering where this vintage was headed.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Here Comes the Sun</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> On June 20, summer arrived seemingly overnight. The sun woke up and the rain stopped &mdash; for the next four months. Initially everyone was grateful, and it became evident that although there were irregularities, flowering had proceeded well and vignerons were hopeful for a quality harvest. Then came 85 days of drought, and the vines shut down. Water reserves in the ground and light showers throughout July offered some protection, though, and as veraison approached in late July and early August, new showers arrived with just enough moisture to awaken the vines for ripening.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Only Happy When It Rains</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> The vintage was touch and go until mid-September. Just has summer had arrived in the blink of an eye, so did fall. On September 13 the temperature dropped precipitously and the rain returned. The autumn season began just in time to aid in freshness retention during the final stages of ripening. This proved beneficial everywhere but particularly for Merlot, which was all picked by mid-October and showed signs of one of the best Merlot harvests in years. Cabernet Sauvignon was picked in the following weeks, likewise at good ripeness. What happened next no one could have predicted.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>The 2016 Vintage</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> After a tumultuous year of weather highs and lows, it would have been understandable for the 2016 vintage to be a disappointment. This is not the case. As the grapes were harvested it became apparent the vintage was nearly perfect. Unlike in the rest of France, where yields were down 10% from 2015, Bordeaux yields actually rose 7%. And the grapes were ideal. Little work was needed in sorting, crush, and extraction, and vignerons labored not to overwork the velvety tannins. In keeping with Old World winemaking styles, less was more in 2016.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Eloi Jacob, Director and Technical Manager of Ch&acirc;teau Fonpl&eacute;gade, shared his 2016 vintage experience with me: &ldquo;2016 saw a rainy difficult spring, nice for the vines and aided in growth in the spring. This was followed by a dry period that was perfect for flowering. July was marked by drought, but rain came at the perfect moment and three days later we had veraison. The rain was non-stop till it stopped, then we had sun non-stop. At the eleventh hour rain returned; it was a miracle. The heat of August aided in high concentration in winemaking, the wines more elegant. Our biodynamic terroir added minerality &mdash; no explanation for this. We have more minerality in &rsquo;16 than in &rsquo;15, but overall they are two great vintages.&rdquo;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>My Tasting Notes</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> I returned to Bordeaux recently to taste at Degustation Panorama Millesime 2016. After having tasted the fantastic 2015 vintage twice, I was unsure what 2016 had in store. I&rsquo;d read about the weather predicament, but while I knew general opinions were high after last year&rsquo;s En Primeur, tasting for myself after time in barrel is key.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> I found in this vintage a softness and silkiness that wasn&rsquo;t present in the 2015. The wines have approachability and depth with a balanced pronounced acid-tannin structure so important for age-ability. I found their fruitiness, with a focus on red fruit, a pleasant surprise, as well as their pronounced aromatics.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Breaking it Down</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em>Right Bank</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> I was thrilled by how well the Right Bank performed. In 2015 I favored the Left Bank, but in 2016 the Merlot in these Right Bank wines really shines.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Denis Pomarede, winemaker at Ch&acirc;teau Couvent des Jacobins, shared with me his thoughts on the wines: &ldquo;This 2016 vintage is a great parallel to 1966, 50 years ago, because of both weather patterns and the identity of the Merlot on the Right Bank. What makes it an exceptional vintage is a rarely-seen balance between power, freshness, and identity. It would have been easy to make powerful, tannic and jammy wines in the Right Bank given the high berry concentration and temptation of late harvest. But the 2016 vintage on the Right Bank feels more like a &lsquo;back to basic&rsquo; vintage: not-too-late harvests to maintain freshness; moderate extractions to keep the balance; and moderate new oak to keep the identity and personality of the fruit. Our ancestors were good at keeping personality and identity in wines in 1966: it&rsquo;s amazing how elegant and racy wines can get when the new winemaking techniques are gently combined with that ancestral know-how!&rdquo;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> A few standouts for me from Saint-Emilion include Ch&acirc;teau Couvent des Jacobins, Ch&acirc;teau Chauvin, Ch&acirc;teau Fleur Cardinale, Ch&acirc;teau Grand Corbin, Ch&acirc;teau Larmande, Ch&acirc;teau Magrez Fombrauge, Ch&acirc;teau Quintus, and Ch&acirc;teau Sansonnet.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Pomerol standouts include Ch&acirc;teau La Crois du Casse, Ch&acirc;teau la Fleur de Gay, Ch&acirc;teau la Rose Figeac, Ch&acirc;teau Saint-Pierre, and Ch&acirc;teau de Sales. These wines were polished, rich, and floral with balanced spice and earth; elegant and full-bodied.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em>Left Bank</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Many of the left bank wines I tasted were lighter and fresher than their 2015 counterparts. Don&rsquo;t get me wrong &mdash; I will still be buying 2015, and you should too. Those wines were outstanding and have a long cellarability. However, adding 2016 allows wine consumers to balance them with another great vintage that is lighter and more approachable.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Sandrine B&eacute;gaud, Public Relations for Ch&acirc;teau Rauzan-S&eacute;gla, shares with me a comparison of the 2015 and 2016 vintages, &ldquo;2015 and 2016 are comparable to 2009 and 2010. 2015 is powerful with a more massive tannic structure even if it is very silky and elegant for Rauzan-Segla. 2016 has a bigger proportion of cabernet sauvignon. 2016 is composed of 68% cabernet sauvignon, 30% merlot and 2% petit Verdot. 2015 is composed of 63% cabernet sauvignon, 33% merlot, 3% petit Verdot and 1% cabernet franc. Proportion of cabernet sauvignon, in the vintage 2016, is the highest we have used for years, and merlot the lowest. Cabernet is extremely delicious in 2016. Both vintages, 2016 and 2015, will age perfectly but with 2 different profile, 2 different identities. They are like 2 handsome men, a blond hair man and a brown hair one. 2 amazing wines&hellip;&rdquo;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Sandrine elaborates on Ch&acirc;teau Rauzan-S&eacute;gla left bank experience with 2016 vintage, &ldquo;We always have to face difficulties that is why a vintage is very unique. In June 2016 sun has been very hot for 2 weeks and some Merlot grapes, exposed to sun, had sunburnt. The skins were more fragile and ripened quicker. In September, when the vineyard manager walked in the different plots of Merlot he tasted had different ripeness. Exposed clusters, facing south, had over-riped flavors and the other clusters had fresher flavors. The technical team conducted by Nicolas Audebert, our general manager, decided to pick just the exposed clusters, plot by plot, and adapt the vinification process to the ripeness of the fruit (low temperatures, short vinifications&hellip;.) to protect the fruitiness and freshness instead of emphasizing the concentration. The &ldquo;regular&rdquo; clusters of merlot were picked in ideal conditions, few days later, and been vinified differently with the appropriate temperatures, maceration&hellip;. At the end it appears that &ldquo;both&rdquo; merlot were used in the grand vin : both were complementary &hellip;.fruitiness, freshness and elegant tannins.&rdquo;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Haut-M&eacute;doc wines were focused. My picks include Ch&acirc;teau Citran, Ch&acirc;teau Larrivaux, Ch&acirc;teau Peyrabon, and Ch&acirc;teau La Tour Carnet.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Pessac-L&eacute;ognan wines were elegant, with prominent notes of black currant and eucalyptus. Highlights include Domain de Chevalier, Ch&acirc;teau Malartic-Lagraviere, Ch&acirc;teau la Mission Haut-Brion, Ch&acirc;teau Olivier, Ch&acirc;teau Pape Clement, and Ch&acirc;teau Picque Caillou.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Margaux wines always deliver. I found the 2016s to have a femininity to them: big yet silky and floral. Standouts include Ch&acirc;teau d&rsquo;Arsac, Ch&acirc;teau Lascombes, Ch&acirc;teau Palmer, Ch&acirc;teau Rauzan-S&eacute;gla, and Ch&acirc;teau de Tertre.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> I tend to enjoy the minerality of Saint-Julien wines and 2016 was no exception. Top tastings include Ch&acirc;teau Beychevelle, Ch&acirc;teau Leoville Barton, and Ch&acirc;teau Leoville Poyferre.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Paulliac wines were linear in focus, driven, and with more earth and minerality than fruit. Standouts include Ch&acirc;teau d&rsquo;Armailhac, Ch&acirc;teau Batailley, Ch&acirc;teau Clerc Milon, Ch&acirc;teau Lynch-Bages, Ch&acirc;teau Pichon Baron, and and Ch&acirc;teau Pichon-Longueville Comtesse de Lalande.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Saint-Est&egrave;phe was showing more fruit and floral notes, focused but less minerality. Highlights include Ch&acirc;teau Cos d&rsquo;Estournel, Ch&acirc;teau Laffitte Carcasset, Ch&acirc;teau Lafon-Rochet, Ch&acirc;teau Montrose, and Ch&acirc;teau Tour de Pez.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Conclusion</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Although weather caused stress for many ch&acirc;teaux in 2016, in the end the right weather at the right time created a vintage that rivals some of Bordeaux&rsquo;s best. I found the wines to be full-bodied, bold, elegant, and harmonious, with alcohol levels slightly lower than in years past. Overall, this is a vintage to buy and lay down.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Fabrice Bernard, General Manager of Mill&eacute;sima summed it best: &ldquo;We have 2010 and 2016; two of Bordeaux&rsquo;s greatest vintages.&rdquo;<br /><br /> </p> Fri, 08 Jun 2018 00:00:00 -0400 article7040 This Wine Region Lurks in the Shadows John Downes <p>Back in the 80&rsquo;s Chateau Musar and its winemaker Gaston Hochar caused quite a stir in the UK, &ldquo;I didn&rsquo;t know Lebanon made wine&rdquo;, was the usual reply. It couldn&rsquo;t have been further from the truth for Lebanon&rsquo;s ancient people were bottling and shipping wine as early as 3000 BC.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Chateau Ksara has now joined Chateau Musar on UK wine shelves. Ksara&rsquo;s tradition stretches back to 1857 when Jesuit brothers inherited a 25 hectare plot between Tanail and Zahle in the Bekaa Valley and linked their science and agricultural skills to plant foreign, mostly French, grape varieties on Lebanese soil. Chateau Ksara bought the winery from the Jesuits in 1973. <br /> Lebanon is a small, mountainous country in the eastern Mediterranean, bordering Syria to the north and Israel to the south. The Bekaa Valley plateau lies at about 1100 metres above sea level and with its backdrop of snow-capped mountains enjoys a continental climate (cold, wet winters and hot, dry summers); a combination that suits the French varieties down to the ground.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Chateau Ksara&rsquo;s vineyards are located in the central and western Bekaa Valley and produce white wines (including Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Gewurztraminer) and reds from varieties that include Cinsault, Carignan, Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot.&nbsp; &ldquo;Our whites are delicate and aromatic whilst our reds are rich, fleshy and tannic&rdquo;, notes Ksara&rsquo;s Chairman Zafer Chaoui.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> To complete the French Connection, Ksara&rsquo;s winemaker is a Bordeaux man, &ldquo;I was at Chateau Prieure-Lichine in Margaux and to be honest, I didn&rsquo;t expect to be amazed by the winemaking opportunities in Lebanon. I&rsquo;m now very proud to be a Frenchman making wine in Lebanon&rdquo;, notes James Palge. He&rsquo;s in a good place for Bordeaux varieties are major players at Ksara.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Chateau Ksara, the flagship red wine follows the Bordeaux line. The 2014, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (60%), Merlot (30%) and Petit Verdot (10%) from the clay-limestone Khirbet Qanafar vineyard at about 900 metres, was fermented in stainless steel before being aged for 18 months in 50% new oak and 50% first year oak. My notes included red and black fruit aromas with crisp, cherry and plum spice flavours, positive tannins, lovely mouthfeel, with a lingering toasty bramble finish. The older vintages of 2001 and 2008 confirmed that these wines age really well.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Chateau Ksara&rsquo;s Cuvee du Pape Chardonnay 2014 hails from guyot-trained vines planted in the clay and limestone soils at about 1400 metres. The wine was fermented in new oak barrels with &lsquo;battonage&rsquo; (lees stirring) and aged for 8 months in new and one year old French oak barrels. &ldquo;Intriguing and exotic&rdquo;, I wrote as an opening line, &ldquo;honey and vanilla overtones to ripe, yet fresh peach, melon and apple flavours with a pleasing finish&rdquo;, I concluded. Like many of my fellow tasters, thinking of the hot summers of the Bekaa Valley, I expected softer acidity. We also tasted the 1996 vintage which again revealed a refreshing edge to the mellow fruit and honeyed overtones.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> If you want to treat your friends to a quality wine that&rsquo;s &lsquo;intriguing and different&rsquo; Lebanon&rsquo;s a great place to start.</p> Fri, 25 May 2018 00:00:00 -0400 article7038 The Latest from Champagne Alan Tardi <p>April in Paris is wonderful, but for someone who loves Champagne, April in Reims is even better. Because April is when this city, home to a splendid cathedral and many of the most prestigious Champagne Houses such as Krug, Veuve-Clicquot, Roederer and Pommery, is abuzz with Le Printemps des Champagnes. Now in its tenth year, this five-day event for wine professionals is comprised of many individual salon-like tastings staged by groups of small grower-producers from all over the Champagne region.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Things kicked off quietly with two tastings Saturday afternoon, one of which &mdash; a tasting of Meunier-based Champagnes by the Meunier Institut &mdash; I managed to attend despite having just arrived in Charles de Gaulle airport that morning to a train strike which delayed my arrival in Reims by 7 hours.<br /> The second day, Sunday there were five tastings, including a very large group of organic producers called &ldquo;Bulles Bio&rdquo; at Le Man&egrave;ge de Reims (a former stable) as well as &ldquo;Les Mains du Terrior&rdquo; which took place in the ornate salon of the Town Hall. The effervescent frenzy peaked on Monday with 8 events, including both morning and afternoon sessions of &ldquo;Terres et Vins de Champagne,&rdquo; one of the original groups of grower-producers that got this whole thing going a decade ago, in the Palace de Tau adjacent to the imposing cathedral. After that the flurry tapered back down with five tastings on Tuesday and three on the final day.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> As the strike was still alive and kicking (and still is, as I write this several weeks later), I had to get a ride to the airport at 5:30 Wednesday morning, which made Tuesday my last evening in Reims. But I was not disappointed. After a full day of tasting (including a fantastic collection of wines by a group called Les Artisans du Champagne at the luxurious hotel-restaurant Domaine les Cray&egrave;res) my final event of Printemps 2018 was a tasting &mdash; kind of a party, really &mdash; sponsored by the Acad&egrave;mie du Vin de Bouzy at an open-air wine bar called Les Clos across from the Boulingrin market.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Bouzy, population 947 (2009), is located in the southern part of the Montagne de Reims area of the Marne department and is a 100% Grand Cru village. But what makes it especially notable is that it is one of the original sub-appellations of Coteaux Champenois AOC.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> While it may come as a surprise to many, long before bubbles were embraced and the complex process called the M&eacute;thode Champenoise was developed to intentionally create them, the wine produced in Champagne was still. And back at a time when the name of the region didn&rsquo;t have quite the allure it has today, the name of villages that had developed a reputation for producing wine that what was generally considered to be exceptionally good often got top billing on the label. Bouzy was one of these villages; A&yuml;, Cumieres, Sillery and Vertus were others.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> We all know what happened: bubbles became a big hit, the kinks in the production process were ironed out, and sparkling Champagne &mdash; often copied but never quite duplicated &mdash; went on to become a symbol of luxury and the &lsquo;good life&rsquo; throughout the world. Needless to say, all the popping corks and foamy fizz greatly overshadowed the still wines that preceded them. But they did not disappear.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> In 1974 the ancient practice received its own appellation, Coteaux Champenois AOC, replacing what had up until then been referred to as &ldquo;Vins Natures de la Champagne,&rdquo; and a number of stalwart producers kept making still wines (in addition to their Champagnes), despite the fact that there wasn&rsquo;t much market for them.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> When I was spending lots of time in Reims researching my book on Champagne, I would scour restaurant wine lists to see whether they had any, and most of them didn&rsquo;t. When I asked a restaurateur why there was no Coteaux Champenois on the list of their restaurant in one of the capitals of Champagne she said &ldquo;We can get better wines of this style for less money from Burgundy; who wants to drink still wine from Champagne?&rdquo;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Moi, I thought to myself, but she did have part of a point: because the still wines are made from the same grapes and vineyards that are authorized for the production of Champagne, the wines are not inexpensive. Generally, Coteaux costs about the same as the entry-level Champagne from the same producer, but not always: sometimes they can cost much more.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Though Coteaux Champenois are made (mostly) from the same grapes as Burgundy &mdash; Pinot Noir and Chardonnay &mdash; they are completely different wines: Coteaux Champenois tend to be a bit lighter in color and body, and less fruit-forward than their Burgundian counterparts with higher acidity and a distinct mineral edge. Moreover, these wines offer unadulterated expressions of the unique climate, soils and terroirs of Champagne, and for this reason, while quite delicious on their own terms, they also provide a valuable insight into (bubbly) Champagne.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> So I was quite happy to spend my last night in Champagne with a bunch of Bouzy.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> There are 17 members of the Acad&eacute;mie de Bouzy and each had at least one Coteaux Champenois and a ros&eacute; Champagne &mdash; &ldquo;Rouge et Ros&eacute;&rdquo; was the theme of the evening &mdash;so this was a great opportunity to have your Coteaux and drink bubbles too. Many also offered a <em>vin clair</em>, a still wine from the most recent 2017 vintage. As Bouzy is located in the Montagne de Reims, Pinot Noir dominates and most of the Coteaux from Bouzy is Rouge. But there were a few remarkable standouts. The Herbert Beaufort winery poured an extremely rare Bouzy Blanc 2017 made from 80% chardonnay and 20% petit meslier, one of the so called &lsquo;lost&rsquo; native grape varieties of Champagne, which added an exotic fillip to the taut and focused chalky core. (About 1,000 bottles made.) Another was an extraordinary Bouzy Ros&eacute; from the &ldquo;Clos Barnaut&rdquo; 2008 made from 100% pinot noir grown in an enclosed vineyard site (Also 1,000 made).<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Unfortunately, neither of these wines is available in the US. But here are some that are:<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Egly-Ouriet, Ambonnay Rouge Coteaux Champenois AOC &ldquo;Cuv&eacute;e des Grands C&ocirc;t&egrave;s&nbsp; 2014&nbsp; - $160/bottle<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Rene Geoffroy, Cumieres Rouge Coteaux Champenois 2006 - $70/bottle<br /><br /> &nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;<br /><br /> Bollinger, A&yuml; Rouge,Coteaux Champenois &ldquo;La C&ocirc;te Aux Enfants&rdquo; 2013 - $120/bottle<br /><br /> <br /><br /> B&eacute;r&ecirc;che et Fils, Coteaux Champenois Ormes Rouge &ldquo;Les Mont&eacute;es&rdquo; 2014 (Pinot Noir &amp; Meunier)&nbsp; - $75/bottle<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Pierre Paillard, Bouzy Rouge Coteaux Champenois &ldquo;Les Mignottes&rdquo; 2012 -&nbsp; $40/bottle</p> Fri, 18 May 2018 00:00:00 -0400 article7037 Top 5 Grapes to Watch Mark Angelillo <p>Everything I am about to share was gleaned during my recent trip to ProWein, the world&rsquo;s leading international wine and spirits gathering. I&rsquo;m sure that each one of the sixty-thousand visitors came away with their own impressions &ndash; but one thing is certain: if it&rsquo;s happening in the wine world, it&rsquo;s happening at ProWein. This gathering continues to help inform the way we drink wine around the world.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> ProWein has shown us the rise of natural wines, the &ldquo;return&rdquo; of orange wine, and of course the slow but steady growth of wines from China. Wine in a can and on tap also have arrived. But what I keep coming back to is the millennial-driven push for experiential wines. The adventurous millennial palate wants local varieties, preferably consumed in the grape&rsquo;s native land. And many of them come at great values.<br /> Here are my top five grapes to watch based on my trip to ProWein. There were over 6,000 exhibitors at ProWein this year, so please understand that this list is not exhaustive. I selected them based on their potential attractiveness to the up-and-coming generation of wine drinkers -- millennials. Their sway is having real-time impact on the wine world.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Vermentino from Sardinia</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Cannonau, also known as Garnacha, is a Sardinian staple. But what I&rsquo;m most excited about is the increasing interest in Vermentino. Vermentino from Sardinia&rsquo;s Gallura is the one and only DOCG on the island. It&rsquo;s a highly aromatic varietal that flourishes by the sea. These days you can find it everywhere from Virginia to California. I think we will be seeing even more of it in the coming years.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Harriague from Uruguay</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> While the country has no native varieties to offer, it has adopted Harriague &ndash; also known as Tannat &ndash; as its own. The name comes from Pascual Harriague, a Basque native credited with bringing wine to Uruguay in the late 1800s. While Tannat is renowned for its overpowering tannins, Harriague presents in a soft, fruity way that is unique to the region.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Xarello from Spain</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> One of the three grapes used to make Cava (along with Macabeo and Parellada), some producers are experimenting with the Xarello grape as a varietal wine. It contributes body, structure and freshness to Cava and so it stands strong on its own. The millennial palate is already primed for Cava and is sure to be intrigued by its components in isolation. Varietal Xarello delivers heavy-hitting citrus, pear, and herbal notes.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Zweigelt from Austria</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Zweigelt plantings grew 48% between 1999 and 2015. It is the most widely planted red grape variety in Austria. Named in honor of viticulturist Fritz Zweigelt, these wines are fresh and crisp in a way that most red wines aren&rsquo;t. It is known as the white wine lovers red for a reason.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Grolleau from Loire</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> This is another example of a grape that is usually associated with a blend, often a ros&eacute;. Its high acid content can cut through the meatiest dishes with precision and finesse. Light red fruits complement the strong acidity quite well. It is the third most cultivated dark-skinned grape in the Loire Valley, after Cabernet Franc and Gamay Noir. Suffice it to say, this grape is prime for a varietal revival.</p> Thu, 10 May 2018 00:00:00 -0400 article7036 When we wine with purpose. John Downes <p>Most fairy tales have a happy ending but there&rsquo;s a wonderful story that unfolds every year in the middle of France, bringing wealth and riches to the poor every time it&rsquo;s told. And, as if by magic, the bags of gold grow bigger with every telling. Are you sitting comfortably?<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Way back in 1440 the Chancellor of Burgundy, Nicolas Rolin, decided to build a hospital for the sick and needy. He created a foundation and thanks to his influence, the venture soon gained support from the wealthy burgers of Beaune. It may have been keeping up with the medieval Jones&rsquo; but seeing that Rolin had endowed the Hospice with his prestigious vineyards inspired many to follow suit. The first donation was made in 1457 with 33 hectares of Corton Grand Cru. &lsquo;Not bad for starters! <br /> The first patient hobbled up to the gates of the Hospice de Beaune or L&rsquo;Hotel Dieu as it was known, on New Years Day of 1452 and to this day, its fine work is supported by the wines from vineyards donated over five centuries. For these are no ordinary vineyards but amongst the planet&rsquo;s finest, boasting some of the world&rsquo;s most expensive real estate! &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> As centuries passed, donations kept rolling in and today the portfolio boasts over 60 hectares, mostly <em>Premier </em>and <em>Grand Cru</em> vineyards that read like a &lsquo;&rsquo;Who&rsquo;s Who&rsquo;&rsquo; of top Burgundy plots. The best parcels of Montrachet, Morey St. Denis, Corton Charlemagne, Meursault, Mazis Chambertin, Pommard and Volnay are just part of a mind-blowing list that envelopes the magical Cote D&rsquo;Or, (the Golden Slopes), the narrow vineyard strip that links the wine towns of Nuits St. Georges and Beaune.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> In the early days the wines from the Hospice&rsquo;s vineyards were sold by private treaty but in 1820 it was decided to sell by auction. In 1824 the third Sunday in November was set aside - the date that remains today for France&rsquo;s, and probably the world&rsquo;s, most famous wine sale. Initially the auction was held at the Hospice when its priceless tapestries were hung around the magnificent courtyard to produce a sumptuous auditorium but in 1956 with its increasing success, the event was moved to the more spacious, albeit less palatial, Halle de Beaune across the square.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Not satisfied with a conventional auction, (for what kind of fairy tale would that make), the Hospice auction was originally &lsquo;a la chandelle&rsquo; - where a candle was lit to start the bidding, the winner being the one that holds the last bid before the flame goes out. Sadly, <em>la chandelle</em> was recently extinguished, giving way to a traditional hammer. &lsquo;Not so romantic but the auction&rsquo;s excitement still remains.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> According to Christies, the auction organisers, last November&rsquo;s (2017) auction, the 157th, achieved sales of Euro.13.5 million (US$16m) beating the previous record set in 2015. All the wines were from the latest vintage and were bought in barrel; 787 barrels in total, 630 red and 157 white. Bids were received from 18 countries on 4 continents.<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> The prices increased by 8.6% on 2016; +3.15% for the reds, +29.65% for the whites, an increase that shows the ever-growing interest of foreign buyers for Burgundy wines, especially the Grand and Premier Crus. It&rsquo;s interesting to note however, that the prices of the whites are back to the 2015 level after last year&rsquo;s significant decrease of 35.94%. 2017 saw only a moderate increase in the prices of the reds.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The results mark a return to form for the annual Hospices de Beaune auction, albeit there was also more wine to sell from a 2017 vintage that proved relatively plentiful versus previous vintages.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The special &quot;Pieces des Presidents&rdquo;, (the President&#39;s Barrels) whose proceeds go to outside charities, fetched the highest price of all thanks to the traditional help of celebrities; this time three charities benefited, namely The Foundation Tara Exp&eacute;ditions (supported by French designer Agn&egrave;s b and actress Julie Depardieu), The Federation for Brain Research (talk show host Marc-Olivier Fogiel) and The Foundation for Alzheimer Research (French singer Charles Aznavour). &lsquo;Fairy tale stuff indeed.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> This year the Pieces des Presidents consisted of two barrels of Corton Clos du Roi Grand Cru. They were bought jointly by Maison Albert Bichot and a China-based investor for a whopping Euro.410 000.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Albert Bichot have been at the forefront of sales for 20 years and it was the 6th time in the history of the Hospice that they had acquired the prestigious President&rsquo;s parcel. In 2017 Albert Bichot again confirmed its position as the leading buyer at the auction with the purchase of 115 barrels (out of 787) for an eye-watering total of Euro. 1,746,600.&nbsp; &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> &ldquo;As a leading actor in Burgundy, our role is to promote the reputation of the region and its wines at an international level whilst, at the same time, supporting local, national and international charities&rdquo;, explains CEO Alberic Bichot. Bravo Bichot!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The Hospice is no longer used as a hospital but reflecting the wishes of Rolin and the earliest benefactors, the show goes on with the sick now being treated at four centres around the town. The &lsquo;must-see&rsquo; Hospice with its colourfully patterned tiled roofs, exquisite colonnades and brightly decorated balconies, remains however, the jewel in the centre of Beaune, attracting about 200 000 tourists every year.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> So the fairy tale goes on, continuing to give riches to the needy and enormous pleasure to all who taste the wine. The magic is as fresh today as when Nicholas Rolin first wrote the story over 550 years ago and even in these troubled times, its ending gets happier and happier as the years roll by.<br /><br /> </p> Fri, 04 May 2018 00:00:00 -0400 article7035 Pisco, the Spirit of Chile Gabe Sasso <p>Many wine producing regions also make a mark producing spirits. In Chile it&rsquo;s Pisco which is South America&rsquo;s take on brandy. Regardless of where it&rsquo;s from brandy is made from the distillation of wine. Two countries produce a brandy called Pisco, Peru and Chile.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Distillers in Chile who want to produce Pisco must start by growing their own grapes. More than a dozen are acceptable for use but a small handful of aromatic varieties account for the bulk of production. Muscat, Pedro Jiminez, and Torentel are the key varieties.&nbsp; Production methodologies vary with some distilling their spirit more than once to achieve a level of refinement and a smoother end product. Quantity wise most Pisco is bottled without aging but some producers age the spirit in oak to achieve different results. Oak aging affects not only the flavor profile but the color which takes on a light copper hue with time in barrel. These aged expressions are designated as Reservado, Gran or Especial. These expressions come closest to bringing to mind Cognac, perhaps the most famous region for Brandy. Some producers focus on blending more than one grape while others stick to a single variety for each expression. &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Alcohol content in Chilean Pisco most commonly hovers right around 40% but can occasionally be as low as 30% or as high as 46%. The expressions that are distilled multiple times tend to be higher in alcohol even though that is sometimes dropped somewhat by the addition of water prior to bottling.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Pisco is deeply embedded in Chilean culture and everyone it seems drinks Pisco Sours, often prior to a meal. I spoke to Vi&ntilde;a Koyle winemaker Cristobal Undurraga about Pisco and asked him how it fit into his life. Undurraga said, &ldquo;I&rsquo;m a real big lover of this grape distillate from Chile. The culture in the Pisco region is fantastic, and quality is going more sophisticated. Personally I prefer Pisco Sours, but it&rsquo;s also very popular in Piscola, with 2/3 Coca Cola and lot of ice.&rdquo; He&rsquo;s certainly right as most Pisco is consumed in a variety of cocktails; the Pisco Sour is undoubtedly the most popular. However Pisco can also be sipped neat. The barrel aged expressions are most appropriate for enjoying in this manner.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> I tasted through a number of different expressions of Chilean Pisco both in cocktails and neat. Here are my thoughts about some specific bottles all of which are available in the U.S.<br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Pisco Mistral Anejado en Roble ($15)</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> A bit of heat is discernible from the first whiff here. Toast, vanilla bean and yellow peach aromas are all in play. The intense palate is layered with yellow fruit, spice and hints of dark baker&rsquo;s chocolate. Peppercorn and bits of sage present on the solid finish.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Alto del Carmen Pisco D.O.C. (The essence of Muscat) ($20)</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> A massive burst of appealing aromatics lead the charge here. Toasted nuts, lychee fruit and wisps of apricot are all in evidence. Bits of anise intersperse with continued fruit on the layered palate. The warming finish shows off a dusting of dark chocolate. Delicious sipped and an exceptional cocktail ingredient.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Pisco Capel ($22)</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Wisps of Thyme underpin the more prominent citrus aromas. Mango, papaya and a complement of spices dot the palate. Sour yellow fruits and a touch of heat are evident on the above average finish.&nbsp; This one is best suited for mixing.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Alto del Carmen Pisco Reservado ($24)</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Aromas of peaches and white flowers fill the nose. The ultra-smooth palate features stones fruit, bits of marzipan and a hint of white pepper. Bing cherry and bits of wild strawberry are evident on the long and memorable finish. Sip this beauty neat.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Pisco Control C&nbsp; ($27)</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Intense citrus aromas leap from the nose along with hints of vanilla bean. The palate is clean and fresh with white fruit and continued citrus notes. Gentle herb characteristics lead the solid finish. This fresh, vibrant Pisco is perfect for cocktails.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Pisco Mistral Nobel ($35)</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Toasty oak and bits of vanilla fill the nose. The palate is loaded with dried stone fruit and hints of rugelach. Apricot and bits of persimmon are evident on the long finish. This is an impressive Pisco that deserves to be sipped neat and contemplated.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Pisco Waqar ($38)</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Rode petal and stone fruit aromas dominate the nose. Fresh apricot, dried herbs and white pepper are evident on the palate. The clean, crisp finish shows off a tiny bit of heat and a hint of dark chocolate. A solid bet for use in Pisco Sours.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Pisco Sour</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Ingredients<br /><br /> 2 &frac12; parts Pisco<br /><br /> 1 egg white<br /><br /> 1/2 part simple syrup<br /><br /> 3/4 part fresh lemon juice<br /><br /> Bitters<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Fill a shaker with ice and top with egg white, Pisco, lemon juice and simple syrup. Cover and shake then pour into a rocks glass. Top with some bitters and serve.</p> Fri, 20 Apr 2018 00:00:00 -0400 article7034 Chile’s Terroir-Driven Wines Are Shifting the Narrative Michelle Williams <p>Chile is one of the oldest and most productive wine regions in the New World, thanks to the missionaries who introduced viticulture there in the 16th century. But although Chile&rsquo;s wines have stormed the global market, they haven&rsquo;t always enjoyed a reputation for quality or complexity.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Today that story&rsquo;s shifting, thanks to a loosely affiliated group of winemakers in the country&rsquo;s northern reaches. Rodrigo Soto is one of them. Wine director at Veramonte, in the Casablanca Valley, Soto believes the key to shifting Chile&rsquo;s reputation lies in emphasizing quality and site expression &mdash; a message that may be well-worn for the Old World but is all-new for Chile.<br /> &ldquo;Today, we realize the value of Chile is its regionality,&rdquo; Soto told me. &ldquo;We haven&rsquo;t communicated our geography and regionality effectively. We have promoted brands over the regions. That&rsquo;s a problem.&rdquo;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Soto and a small group of like-minded winemakers have decided to take the message of Chile&rsquo;s sub-regions to the masses in the best possibly way &mdash; through the wine glass. In a recent visit to the Leyda Valley, San Antonio, Casablanca, and Limar&iacute;, I discovered that these visionaries have a unified ambition: To produce high quality Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs that are truly expressive of place. Below I share my findings.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Leyda Valley</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Located in Acongagua within the San Antonio Valley, Leyda is cooled by morning fog and strong afternoon winds. Undurraga winemaker and self-professed &ldquo;terroir hunter&rdquo; Rafael Urrejola called out the special conditions of the region at the winery&rsquo;s Lomos de Leyda estate. The site receives little annual rainfall, but it&rsquo;s located merely five miles from the ocean, so the mornings are foggy, the afternoons sunny, and the winds blow constantly. The average temperature is 10-12&deg;F cooler than in Chile&rsquo;s Central Valley regions.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> All of these factors contribute to lower yields and slower ripening. Urrejola said the grapes &ldquo;cook like in a slow oven, giving them plenty of time to ripen,&rdquo; but retain their natural acidity. The granite soils are topped with various types of clay&mdash;another factor that adds freshness, he said.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> &ldquo;Vines want to grow vigorously. Granite acts like a hand-break, stopping over production of the vines, said Urrejola. This &ldquo;adds vibrancy to the wine&hellip; increases longevity, adds structure and tension.&rdquo; I found in his wines pronounced fresh fruit notes and subtle secondary notes with rich vibrancy from minerality and crushed stones. Wines of note include <strong>2016 T.H. Sauvignon Blanc, 2015 Sibaris Gran Reserva Chardonnay, 2015 T.H. Pinot Noir</strong>, and the <strong>2016 Trama Pinot Noir</strong>.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>San Antonio Valley</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> At Matetic winery, the vineyards also have a strong ocean influence. Winemaker Julio Bastias said that the combination of the cold Humboldt ocean current, foggy mornings, and wind add &ldquo;freshness and vibrant acidity for Pinot Noir.&rdquo; Soils here are also granite, but mixed with a little mica and quartz. It is a complex soil that he sees as a key to the complexities of the Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Sauvignon Blanc produced here, as it retains water well and adds minerality to the wines.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Bastias embraces biodynamic practices in the vineyard, believing that &ldquo;biodynamics is simply the expression of a place. It&rsquo;s part of the chain; everything is harmonically connected.&rdquo; The vineyards are surrounded by native forests, which he said gives the wines more identity and balance. The winery also has 5,000 cattle helpful for their fertilizing manure and uses sheep, chicken, alpacas, and geese to control vineyard weeds and pests. Limited intervention in the vineyard continues in the winemaking practices, as Bastias strives to let the fresh fruit and pure flavors of the place to speak through the glass. I admired the <strong>2016 EQ Sauvignon Blanc, 2015 EQ Chardonnay, 2014 EQ Pinot Noir</strong>, and <strong>2017 EQ Pinot Noir</strong>.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Casablanca Valley</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Casablanca is slightly farther inland, so the winds are more subdued and the temperatures warmer. Veramonte was the first to plant in Casablanca, in 1984, but now there are 50 producers with approximately 5,500 hectares of vineyards. The soil is deposited from the old coastal mountain range, which is much older and more decomposed than the Andes. The crumbled granite is the key to the region; fracturable, it allows the roots of the vines to grow through it, interact with it.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> In 2012, Veramonte head winemaker Rodrigo Soto shifted all of their vineyards to organic viticulture, and his next goal is to transition to biodynamics, a practice he believes is particularly suited to expressing site. &ldquo;How can we capture decomposed granite in grapes?&rdquo; he asked, hypothetically. &ldquo;How can we get the soil into the wine?&rdquo; For Soto the answer is to close the fertility cycle of the vineyard through biodynamics, allowing a unique expression of region into the wines.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Veramonte started their Ritual label as a vineyard-designate project, and vineyard practices and winemaking techniques are employed to emphasize the characteristics of each place. I found the wines expressed fresh fruit and minerality with depth and complexity, including <strong>2017 Veramonte Chardonnay, 2016 Ritual Chardonnay, 2016 Supertuga Single Vineyard Chardonnay, 2016 Veramonte Pinot Noir, 2016 Ritual Pinot Noir</strong>, and <strong>2016 Monster Block Single Vineyard Pinot Noir</strong>.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Kingston Family Vineyards is an American-owned winery in Casablanca, started in the early 1900&rsquo;s. Today winemaker Amael Orrego is overseeing the conversion of 60 hectares from conventional to organic vineyards, with a focus &ldquo;not on promotion, but to make better wine.&rdquo;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Soils under the undulating vineyard hills are decomposed granite. A dairy farm on site supplies manure for compost. &ldquo;Compost improves the microorganisms in the soil,&rdquo; Orrego said, adding that it &ldquo;does not fertilize the wine &mdash; it feeds the soil.&rdquo;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Orrego believes Kingston is the only winery in Casablanca with Pommard and Calera Pinot Noir clones planted among the more common Dijon. He expressed high hopes for Calera in particular, and believes that &ldquo;Chile is on the cusp of a breakthrough in premium Pinot Noir.&rdquo;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Kingston wines such as the <strong>2016 Savino Chardonnay, 2016 Tobino Pinot Noir</strong>, and <strong>2017 Alazan Pinot Noir</strong> illustrate that high quality wines from Casablanca are worthy of international recognition.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Limar&iacute;</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Limar&iacute;, in the northern Coquimbo Valley, is not protected by a coastal mountain range, so receives full ocean influences, with steady winds. Marcelo Papa, winemaker at Concho y Toro, said the fog rolls in around 3 a.m., blanketing the area until noon and resulting in a maximum of 5 hours of sun each day. This produces Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays that are &ldquo;more austere, less fruit intense, more intellectual, more Burgundian in style,&rdquo; he said.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Papa&rsquo;s special project, Maycas di Limar&iacute;, seeks site expression in the vineyard&rsquo;s limestone soils and red clay, which he believes add body to the wines. Through the <strong>2016 Maycas di Limari Quebrada Seca Chardonnay</strong> and the <strong>2016 Maycas di Limari San Julian Pinot Noir</strong> Marcelo shares his expression of Limar&iacute;.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> If Papa is fortunate to have veins of limestone in his vineyard, Felipe M&uuml;ller, winemaker at Vi&ntilde;a Tabali, won the limestone lottery. M&uuml;ller told me that Tabali&rsquo;s Talinay Vineyard is the only vineyard in Chile planted over marine terroir &ndash; the bedrock is solid limestone. Lying just adjacent to the Atacama Desert, the average rainfall is a mere 80 mm a year, requiring irrigation for the Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir planted there. Vi&ntilde;a Tabali beautifully expresses the unique site of the Talinay Vineyard through its 2015 Talinay Chardonnay, <strong>2015 Talinay Pinot Noir</strong>, and <strong>2015 Talinay Sauvignon Blanc</strong>. Each wine reveals a similar style of expressive fruit with pronounced minerality, complexity, and vibrancy.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Conveying &mdash; and Communicating &mdash; a Sense of Place(s)</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Over my week of site visits and tastings, it became clear that these winemakers are not just striving to produce wines of place, they&rsquo;re succeeding.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> &ldquo;We have not been good storytellers of our country,&rdquo; Rodrigo Soto, of Veramonte, said. But through loose team effort these winemakers are trying to shift the narrative. &ldquo;This project is about believing in the regions,&rdquo; he said; an organic movement started by those who have their hands in the dirt.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The shift won&rsquo;t happen overnight. &ldquo;Building an image takes time,&rdquo; said M&uuml;ller, of Vi&ntilde;a Tabali. &ldquo;Maybe we should have started sooner, but we are here now.&rdquo;<br /><br /> </p> Fri, 20 Apr 2018 00:00:00 -0400 article7033 This grape should sparkle more often. Claudia Angelillo <p>Atypical wines entice intrepid drinkers. Anomalies can be off the mark, but when they&rsquo;re not it&rsquo;s reason to rejoice.&nbsp;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Many different grapes are used to make sparkling wines. The grapes tend to be delineated by region, but winemakers love to experiment. Sometimes the experiments flop. Other times, they strike new chords. This is the case for <strong>Bodegas Moc&eacute;n A&ntilde; Espumoso Brut Nature</strong>, a sparkling <a href=""><strong>Verdejo</strong></a> from the Rueda region.</div><br /> <br /> <strong>Bodegas Moc&eacute;n A&ntilde; Espumoso Brut Nature</strong> demonstrates, to me, the possibility of a new Rueda region staple. The Verdejo grape is known for full-bodied citrus and tropical melon flavors complemented by high acidity. Verdejo from Rueda also delivers notes of smoked nuts (mostly almond and Brazil). They are unmistakable and unique to Verdejo from Rueda. Pipe those notes through a thicket of bubbles and a new experience is born. It&rsquo;s an experience I&rsquo;d like to repeat.&nbsp;&nbsp;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> I had the opportunity to taste the <strong>Bodegas Moc&eacute;n A&ntilde; Espumoso Brut Nature</strong> at the Ribera y Rueda Roadshow, a collection of tastings for both trade and consumers.&nbsp;<a href=""><strong>Sign up here</strong></a> to learn about future events and more from Ribera y Rueda.&nbsp;<br /><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>Bodegas Moc&eacute;n A&ntilde; Espumoso Brut</strong> Nature is available from <a href=""><strong>Columbus Wine &amp; Spirits</strong></a>.</div><br /> </p> Tue, 10 Apr 2018 00:00:00 -0400 article7031 Wine Label Workshop Mark Angelillo <p>I just returned from ProWein 2018. As always, the world&rsquo;s leading convocation of wine and spirits professionals did not disappoint. Stay tuned for more coverage on this event in the coming weeks.<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> We&rsquo;ve talked a lot about wine labeling over the years, but there&#39;s always more to say. While at ProWein I attended a dinner sponsored by the VDP. You may recognize the letters VDP from bottles of German wine. It occurred to me that while so many Americans are drinking German wine, many may not fully understand the importance of these three letters on some German bottles. And for those who already do understand, I hope this piece reminds you to pick up a bottle of German wine this weekend.&nbsp;</div><br /> <br /> VDP stands for the Verband Deutscher Pr&auml;dikatsweing&uuml;ter. It is the oldest national association of fine winegrowing estates anywhere in the world. Founded in 1910, the VDP brings together roughly 200 winegrowing estates from a variety of regions across Germany. They adhere to incredibly specific standards that ensure quality bottles. Their logo, an eagle bearing a cluster of grapes, is unmistakable. Many of the German wines you will find at your local retailer have this logo on their seals.&nbsp;<a href=""><strong>Learn more about VDP and what they do here</strong></a>.&nbsp;</p> Fri, 23 Mar 2018 00:00:00 -0400 article7029 Drink The Old Vines of South Africa John Downes <p>A chef recently challenged me to match a wine with <a href=""><strong>Bakewell Tarts</strong></a>, one of England&rsquo;s favourite cakes. These delicious sweeties have a jam-coated shortcake case filled with sponge, topped with by almond flakes and icing. I luv &lsquo;em. What&rsquo;s more, Bakewell is a village in Derbyshire not far from my home city of Manchester so, as you can guess, I was up for the challenge.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> South Africa&rsquo;s beautiful vineyards are also very close to my heart. Chenin Blanc&rsquo;s one of my favourite grape varieties and so, for me, the combination of Bakewell Tarts, Manchester, South Africa and Chenin Blanc really hits the spot.&nbsp;<br /> With the Bakewells I opted for a dry but fruity South African Bush Vine Chenin Blanc 2016 from Klein Zalze; it chips in with ripe yet crisp pineapple and peach melon flavours which, together with the sweet almond overtones of the Bakewell beauties complete an intriguing taste experience.&nbsp;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Zalze&rsquo;s Chenin Blanc hails from their Stellenbosch vineyards tucked behind Cape Town&rsquo;s Table Mountain. The bush vine bit refers to the vines being trained as bushes, a historical system often referred to as &lsquo;goblet&rsquo;. Chenin Blanc arrived in the Cape in the mid 17th century and soon became popular as its versatility produced dry, medium, sweet and sparkling wines. This classic variety also gave the winemaker bags of mouth-watering acidity, so important to balance the riper fruit produced in a warmer climate.&nbsp;&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> South Africa is the world&rsquo;s largest producer of Chenin Blanc so it&rsquo;s not surprising that it&rsquo;s the Cape&rsquo;s most planted variety. Chenin therefore plays a leading role in South Africa&rsquo;s new and exciting &lsquo;Old Vine Project&rsquo; which aims to preserve South Africa&rsquo;s vines with over 35 years on the clock. There are currently about 2,600 hectares of vineyards with vines of this age, &ldquo;but only an estimated 7% have been identified and resuscitated and result in an identifiable wine brand. The rest are sadly all under threat of being pulled up. There&rsquo;s a long way to go&rdquo;, admits the Project&rsquo;s marketing specialist Andre Morgenthal. Cleverly, the project also has 20-30 year old vines in its sights as these are the &lsquo;old vines&rsquo; and great wines of the future.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> I was lucky enough to be invited to South Africa House a while ago to taste over 70 wines from &lsquo;the Old Vine Project&rsquo;, a stunning collection that spanned the Cape&rsquo;s vineyards from Olifants River in the north to Bot River in the south, from Swartland and Darling in the west to Calitzdorp in the Klein Karoo to the east.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Wines of South Africa, ably supported by viticulturalist Rosa Kruger and Andre Morgenthal have championed the &lsquo;Old Vine Project&rsquo; but importantly they also have the support of S.A&rsquo;s top producers including Badenhorst, Alheit, Metzer, L&rsquo;Avenir, Klawer, Piekenierskloof, Bellingham, De Krans, Morgenhof, De Morgenzon, Simonsig, Reyneke, Gabrielskloof and the Sadie Family. Klein Zalze are also supporters of the Old Vine Project but it&rsquo;s their Bush Vine Chenin that clicks with the Bakewell.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> A friend thought that a red may also lift the Bakewell Tarts so I stayed in the Cape vineyards and opened a bottle of Benguela Cove Shiraz 2014. The wine is 100% Shiraz from the Walker Bay vineyards that overlook the Atlantic Ocean in the Overberg region near the whale watching town of Hermanus. The crisp blackberry flavours went surprisingly well with the tarts, &ldquo;told you so&rdquo;, he smiled. It just shows you that when it comes to matching food and wine there are few hard and fast rules. Try the &lsquo;Bakewells&rsquo; with the Chenin Blanc and the Shiraz or, push the boat out and pour Klein Zalze&rsquo;s Old Vine Project Family Reserve Chenin 2015 or one of the others from the exciting &lsquo;Old Vine Project&rsquo;. Either way, South Africa wins again!&nbsp;</div><br /> </p> Fri, 23 Mar 2018 00:00:00 -0400 article7028 The Classico in Chianti Matters Mark Angelillo <p>I&rsquo;m often asked by novice wine drinkers if Chianti Classico is worth its price (as compared to base-level Chianti), and my short answer is an emphatic yes. The Chianti region is iconic and known for producing Sangiovese-based wines in volume, but it&rsquo;s important to remember that Chianti has eight distinct sub-zones. Chianti Classico is one of them, and arguably the most important. After tasting hundreds of bottles of Chianti Classico, Chianti Classico Riserva, and Chianti Classico Gran Selezione, I&rsquo;ve narrowed down my top five producers in each category.<br /> Chianti Classico DOCG, established in 1984 (and elevated to DOCG status in 1996), demarcates specific tracts of vines where superior quality Sangiovese grapes are grown under the strictest conditions. Here you will find winemakers experimenting with a variety of Sangiovese clones, selecting those that are best suited to particular bands of vines. Sangiovese grapes for Chianti wines were originally grown in the &ldquo;Classico&rdquo; area, prior to the region&rsquo;s expansion into nearby territories. The wines are classically superior versions of themselves. &nbsp;<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> It&rsquo;s so easy for Sangiovese-based wines to go sour &ndash; literally and figuratively. The thin-skinned, high acid grape demands a lot of the winemaker&rsquo;s attention. The tiniest bit of moisture can lead to ruin. Chianti Classico&rsquo;s microclimates are a huge help, and the altitude of the vines tends to be higher than surrounding regions. Rocky mountain slopes reflect sunlight onto the vines, bringing additional heat to combat moisture. Pockets of coastal breeze make a difference too. Galestro, Central Italy&rsquo;s rocky, schist-based signature soil, combines with sandstone to produce terroir-driven notes unique to the region. Galestro is fairly brittle; water and heat help the vines soak up its mineral content in plenty. &nbsp;<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> Chianti Classico produces three different levels of wine for your consideration: Chianti Classico, Chianti Classico Riserva, and Gran Selezione.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Chianti Classico</strong> must have a minimum of eighty percent Sangiovese grapes, but may be up to one hundred percent. Red grapes like Cabernet, Merlot, and Colorino can appear in the remaining twenty percent of the blend. As of 2006, white grapes are no longer permitted in Chianti Classico wines. The minimum alcohol level for Chianti Classico is 12% (compared to 11.5% for Chianti DOCG) and the wines must age for one year prior to release.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Top 5 Chianti Classico Producers:</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href="">Poggerino Chianti Classico 2014</a><br /><br /> <a href="">Gabbiano Chianti Classico 2014</a><br /><br /> <a href="">Rocca di Montegrossi Chianti Classico 2015</a><br /><br /> <a href="">Principe Corsini Le Corti Chianti Classico 2014</a><br /><br /> <a href="">Castello di Radda Chianti Classico 2014</a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Chianti Classico Riserva</strong> wines are aged for a minimum 24 months, with a minimum alcohol level of 12.5%.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Top Five Chianti Classico Riserva Producers:</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href="">Viticcio Chianti Classico Riserva 2013</a><br /><br /> <a href="">Cantine Guidi Chianti Classico Riserva 2013</a><br /><br /> <a href="">Dievole Novecento Chianti Classico Riserva 2014</a><br /><br /> <a href="">Fattoria di Rignana Chianti Classico Riserva 2013</a><br /><br /> <a href="">Carpineto Chianti Classico Riserva 2012</a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Chianti Classico Gran Selezione</strong> was introduced in 2014 to much fanfare. These wines focus on estate grown grapes and estate bottled wines. The wines are aged for thirty months prior to release.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Top Five Chianti Classico Riserva Gran Selezione Producers:</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href="">Villa Calcinaia Vigna Contessa Luisa Chianti Classico Gran Selezione 2012</a><br /><br /> <a href="">Castello Vicchiomaggio la Prima Chianti Classico Gran Selezione 2013</a><br /><br /> <a href="">Castello di Radda Chianti Classico Gran Selezione 2012</a><br /><br /> <a href="">Losi Millenium Chianti Classico Gran Selezione 2009</a><br /><br /> <a href="">Barone Ricasoli Colledila Chianti Classico Gran Selezione 2013</a><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> I do want to stress that there are a slew of fantastic Chianti Classico producers out there, and these are my top picks from this particular tasting. You can see a full list of the wines I rated <a href=""><strong>here</strong></a> (Classico), <a href=""><strong>here</strong></a> (Riserva), and <a href=""><strong>here</strong></a> (Gran Selezione). </p> Fri, 16 Mar 2018 00:00:00 -0400 article7027 Wine Travel is On the Rise Mark Angelillo <p>The link between wine and travel has intensified over the last few years &ndash; largely owing to the world&rsquo;s growing thirst for wine. The United Nations World Tourism Organization held their first Global Conference on Wine Tourism in Georgia in 2016 with fifty countries represented. It is estimated that fifteen million US travelers in 2014 pursued wine related journeys. Revenue from wine tourism increased by ten to fifteen percent between 2013 and 2016, for a total of $22 billion. Emmy-award winning travel writer and host of the popular PBS program Travelscope Joseph Rosendo notes that more and more travelers are, &quot;following their passions and heading out on wine journeys. It makes sense because vineyards thrive in some of the most scenically stunning places on earth and are often icons of a country&#39;s history and are able to marry their passions for travel, food and wine -- three human pursuits that have always offered us the opportunity for adventure, joy, and pleasure.&quot;<br /> While wine travel is not new, it is most certainly renewed in today&rsquo;s world of travel and leisure. Bordeaux is a premier example, as the name alone has drawn wine visitors to the region for decades. Between 2002 and 2016, visitors to Bordeaux increased by a whopping sixty-one percent. Not only are there more travelers, but many of them want to experience their wine in new ways.&nbsp; Bordeaux wineries are offering a wider range of activities to satisfy tourists&rsquo; desire for hands-on experiences - from hand-harvesting grapes with winemakers to blending workshops. Many of today&rsquo;s wine tourists demonstrate a desire to earn the wine they drink through hard work and education. Brahm Callahan, MS, of Himmel Hospitality Group, recently spent time in Spain&#39;s Ribera and Rueda wine regions where the same trends are evident. &quot;The producers (in Ribera and Rueda) offer a range of experience and order for the experience to be as authentic as possible they need to tie in the food, culture, and surrounding environment.&quot; &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> One of the most obvious reasons that wine tourism has witnessed growth is the explosion of New World wines. Beyond the well-known California regions, smaller areas are creating infrastructure to accommodate travelers. Detailed maps and suggested routes, such as that offered by the Wine Institute of California, allow travelers at all budget levels to self-guide their journeys. Some regions have started festivals which create the opportunity for repeat visitors.&nbsp; Twenty-eight years ago, Sonoma County&rsquo;s Dry Creek Valley forged a tradition with their Passport festival that continues to draw crowds. This event has been a touchstone for visitors to Sonoma and can be linked to the region&rsquo;s tremendous growth over the past three decades.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Another key facet of success in wine tourism is being mindful of the needs of your audience. Portugal&rsquo;s Alentejo is leveraging their status as a UNESCO World Heritage site, in combination with its notably beautiful landscape - ideal for birding, beaching, and biking - to draw travelers from around the globe.&nbsp; Those who prefer luxury-style travel will appreciate Alentejo&rsquo;s spas and hotels. This region has armed itself with amenities that fulfill most every need or wish.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Regions and brands are casting wide nets to draw the greatest number of visitors to their uniquely beautiful corner of the wine world. And as a result, there are a lot of incentives out there for wine travelers right now. Check in with your favorite regions and see what they have to offer.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Where will you travel for wine this year?</p> Fri, 02 Mar 2018 00:00:00 -0500 article7026 Connecting with Canadian Wine John Downes <p>I recently appeared on BBC World&rsquo;s <em>Connecting Commerce</em>, a series highlighting companies around the world that are successfully trading beyond their home market. &ldquo;We&rsquo;d like you to comment on Canadian wines John&rdquo;, was the initial request from the BBC producer. I&rsquo;ve tasted several Canadian wines over the years but have yet to visit the vineyards, &ldquo;sounds interesting&rdquo;, I replied booking the filming day into my diary. I was right. The programme, the wines and the featured winemaker were all very interesting! What&rsquo;s more, after the show, Canadian wines are far closer to my heart!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /> The featured winery was Norman Hardie Estate based in picturesque Prince Edward County, Ontario, a two-hour drive east of Toronto on the shores of Lake Ontario. The vineyards lie on latitude 43 degrees north; for the record, Burgundy in central France straddles 47 degrees north. The relevance of the comparison will unfold below.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The vineyard summers are often glorious but with temperatures often dipping below minus 25 degrees centigrade it&rsquo;s the Canadian winter temperatures that get the adrenalin pumping, &quot;minus 25 is the absolute death knell for vitis vinifera [the common grape vine]; we have to bury our 80 000 vines in the winter to protect them. It&#39;s a huge job,&quot; says Norman Hardie who had travelled to London to appear in the programme. If that wasn&#39;t labour intensive enough, come April and May fires are lit and wind turbines positioned in an attempt to drive away late frosts. Sadly, sometimes in such an extreme climate their efforts fail - they lost more than 80% in 2015!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Up against such challenges, you might question why Hardie ever chose to plant vineyards in Ontario back in 2004. &ldquo;Despite the challenges, the combination of cool weather and the clay and limestone soils of Prince Edward County allow us to make unique, world class wines. Great wines are always made on the edge, and we&#39;re certainly on the edge,&quot; says South African-born Hardie, who prior to going into winemaking had been a sommelier in Toronto.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Here comes the first Burgundy link. Norman Hardie Estate wines are primarily made from the Burgundy grapes, that&rsquo;s Chardonnay for white and Pinot Noir for red. I was impressed &hellip; the wines had a Burgundian style but carried a unique Canadian passport.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Over the years I&rsquo;ve seen winemakers around the world attempt to make &lsquo;Burgundy&rsquo; and fall short, eventually realising that Burgundy&rsquo;s unique climate, &lsquo;terroir&rsquo;, land and tradition, and therefore wines, cannot be replicated. Happily, global winemakers are now making excellent Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in a style that reflects their own unique &lsquo;terroir&rsquo;.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Hardie, a Burgundy aficionado, wisely realised this from the very start. His 2015 Chardonnay (&pound;25, $40) part fermented in 500 litre French oak with its crisp, citrus apple flavours, yeasty overtones and layered finish brought a smile to the BBC filming crew as did the 2016 Pinot Noir (&pound;30, $45) with its cherry, strawberry aromas and flavours, crisp, silky mouthfeel, attractive earthy edge and lingering red fruit finish. &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Norman Hardie&rsquo;s sommelier story is a bit of a red herring for he studied winemaking in Burgundy, Oregon, California, South Africa, and New Zealand prior to establishing his own winery. He always had big ideas, &ldquo;from day one I wanted my wines to be sold internationally&rdquo;, he smiled. This dream brought his next big challenge however - how to persuade a sceptical world to take Canadian wine seriously, not easy as he&rsquo;s on record as saying that Canada made &lsquo;terrible&rsquo; wines 30 years ago. &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> I was asked on camera why Hardie is succeeding, &ldquo;he had to start with a high quality wine of course but as Canada is so little known on the global wine stage he also had to work extra hard to make his wines stand out. Most winemakers don&#39;t tell stories, they say &#39;here&#39;s my wine what do you think about it?&#39; but they don&#39;t tell the story behind the wine. For me, that&rsquo;s really important as it gives a picture to the consumer. Norman Hardie tells great stories!&rdquo;, was my reply. &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The internet is an amazing tool but to be able to see eye to eye you have to meet face to face, a point not lost on Hardie who, armed with great stories and a few cases of wine, turned himself into a travelling salesman to build his wine&#39;s global reputation, &ldquo;one top sommelier, one top buyer, and one top wine journalist, at a time&rdquo;. Flying around the world, pounding the pavement, speaking to people, visiting wine fairs, importers and Michelin-starred restaurants, Hardie changed people&#39;s concepts about Canadian wine, &ldquo;I slowly built up export orders focussing initially on the U.K. and New York&rdquo;, he revealed.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> To put Canadian wines in perspective, Italy (17%), France (16%), Spain (12%) and the U.S.A. (10%) are the leading global wine producers &ndash; in meagre comparison, Canada produces just 0.4% of the world&rsquo;s wine. If Norman Hardie has anything to do with it Canada&rsquo;s percentage is set to rise.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> From selling 6,000 bottles in 2004, the Norman Hardie Winery produced 240,000 in 2016. From that, bottles were exported across eight countries - China, Denmark, Japan, New Zealand, Sweden, Taiwan, the UK, and the US. &ldquo;Export success has also had the added bonus of boosting home sales&rdquo;, notes Hardie. Now you&rsquo;ll understand why he was picked up on the BBC radar.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> &ldquo;Where would you suggest for Hardie&rsquo;s next global marketplace&rdquo;, I was asked. &ldquo;Australia&rdquo;, I swiftly replied. I present corporate and masterclass events regularly &lsquo;Down Under&rsquo; and have long realised that the Aussie wine drinker appreciates quality and is prepared to pay for it. AUS$30-40 is a common price tag in a Sydney bottle shop. Compare these Australian price tags with the &pound;5.50 (AUS$9) average UK price and you&rsquo;ll see why I am often amazed at winemakers jostling desperately for a space on UK shelves.&nbsp; &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Preparing to bury the vines for another winter, Norman Hardie smiles, &ldquo;it&rsquo;s all worth it, that credibility, that international credibility, says you&#39;re doing something right.&quot;</p> Fri, 23 Feb 2018 00:00:00 -0500 article7024 Eleventh Hour Valentine's Day Wines Snooth Editorial <p>Retailers report, and empirical evidence demonstrates, that Valentine&#39;s Day can be one of the busiest holidays for the wine and spirits business. Wine menu planning is a fun exercise but sometimes the rigors of workaday reality get in the way of our good time. And when it comes to wine, price doesn&rsquo;t need to indicate how much you care. Wine is one of very few consumer categories where high dollar amounts don&rsquo;t always equal a better product. In this spirit, the web&#39;s top wine writers are here to make Valentine&#39;s Day a bit easier and keep you on budget. All of the recommended wines are under twenty-five dollars.<br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Aimery Cr&eacute;mant de Limoux 1531 Brut Rose NV</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Bubbles are required for Valentine&#39;s Day. But after years of splurging on Champagne, I&#39;ve learned to adjust my approach. Every year we&#39;d open the bottle then switch to a wine that paired with our meal. And I would wish I&#39;d saved the Champagne. Now I choose a Cr&eacute;mant because a bottle that comes in under $25 allows us not to worry about finishing the bottle. A bottle I buy frequently in NV Aimery Cr&eacute;mant de Limoux 1531 Brut Rose. Delicate red fruit, a bit of orange peel, a touch of minerality and acidity makes it a delightful appertiv with enough body to pair with most desserts. At around $17, it adds gives your holiday a splash of pink and a whole lot of sparkle.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Alissa Leenher</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>SAHMmelier</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Arrogant Frog Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot Ribet Red 2015</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> We are sitting in La Table de Franck Putelat, a restaurant in Carcassonne tasting his wines. &quot;Why Arrogant Frog?&quot; I ask Owner-Winermaker Jean-Claude Mas, who replies, conspiratorially: &quot;Because I&#39;m Arrogant, and I&#39;m French.&quot;&nbsp; This is his &quot;fun&quot; wine, he tells me, one that doesn&#39;t have to follow any rules. With his rakish tussled hair, and amused visage, you&#39;d think him a flirt. But just prior he&#39;d explained the label for his Ast&eacute;lia wines -- named for his daughters Astrid, Elisa and Apolline, whose good looks he credits to his wife. He&#39;s a romantic at heart, which is why he makes the perfect Valentine&#39;s Day under-$25 wine. Rich and bright, with deep lush berry tones, you&#39;d think you were drinking a $50 New World Red. But this 55% Cabernet Sauvignon 45% Merlot blend is IGP Pays D&#39;Oc, from the Mediterranean region of Languedoc in the South of France. An outstanding value at under $10.00 per 750 ml bottle.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Amy Corron Power</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Another Wine Blog</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Caparra &amp; Siciliani Solagi Ciro Rosso Classico 2013</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Valentine&#39;s Day is here and there are plenty of wines to consider that can be enjoyed under $25. I&#39;m one to always venture off the beaten path and Italy is a country with plenty of value. Many of the lesser discovered wine regions of Italy provide plenty of options when it comes to value. My Valentine pick this year is the 2013 Caparra &amp; Siciliani Solagi Ciro Rosso Classico. This wine hails from the Calabria region off the tip of the Italian boot. It&#39;s made 100% of the gaglioppo grape, indigenous to this region. Ruby red with a tinge of orange around the rim and very aromatic. This is a medium to full bodied full of dried cherries with good acidity and refined tannins. &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Jennifer Martin</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Vino Travels</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Gloria Ferrer Brut NV</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> For this Valentine&#39;s Day, I recommend Gloria Ferrer&#39;s Brut NV Sparkling Wine from Sonoma, Ca. With a street price below $20/bottle, this is a tremendous value in sparkling wine that performs like bottles at much higher prices. Made in the champenoise method, Gloria Ferrer Brut NV is crafted primarily from pinot noir grapes with a small (under 10%) complement of chardonnay grapes. The floral and fruity nose invites you in, but the creamy mouthfeel is decadent and the flavor palette offers ripe pear with fresh apple, secondary notes of cr&egrave;me br&ucirc;l&eacute;e and freshly baked bread. For the last ten years, this high-scoring wine continues to be incredibly consistent at providing a great value that is a perfect treat to share with your loved one on your most special days together and every day you have together.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Jim vanBergen</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Jvb uncorked</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Herdade do Espor&atilde;o Vinho Regional Alentejano Monte Velho 2015</strong><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> Valentine&rsquo;s Day food and drinks can get expensive. I say: Save your money for theatre tickets or something sexy for your significant other. If you&rsquo;re staying in, you can drink delicious wine without spending much &mdash; that&rsquo;s where Herdade do Espor&atilde;o comes in. This producer, from the Portuguese region Alentejo, produces a line of wines called Montel Velho, and they retail for about $10. For this price, they are some of the most delicious and complex wines I can find for sale in the U.S. The 2015 red (a blend of Aragonez, Trincadeira, Touriga Nacional and Syrah) is a fleshy and fresh red with juicy black fruit mixed with some herbal, vanilla, coffee and mineral elements. It would pair wonderfully with a nice cut of red meat, but drinks well on its own, too.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Isaac James Baker</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Terroirist; Reading, Writing &amp; Wine</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Jean-Paul Brun&#39;s Cr&eacute;mant de Bourgogne Charme Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> For me, all holidays deserve bubbles and should you have a special someone on Valentine&rsquo;s Day, what better way to toast to the future than with a glass of bubbles.&nbsp; I have been on a mission to find sparklers that deliver what I expect in a Champagne, but at a price point that is more affordable for everyday drinking. That&rsquo;s where the Jean-Paul Brun&#39;s Cr&eacute;mant de Bourgogne Charme Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs comes into play. This wine comes from southern Burgundy from Carnay, a region known for its stony vineyards and the wine is made from 60-year-old organic grapes. You will taste apples and apricots, almonds and pear, lemon curd and brioche &ndash; along with a perfect minerality. &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Melanie Ofenloch</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong></strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Jean Paul Brun FRV100</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Valentine&#39;s Day with your special someone calls for something celebratory and unique; something out of the ordinary. Bubbles are always welcome, but you&#39;re on a budget and you don&#39;t want to be too predictable. A bottle of FRV100 by Jean Paul Brun hits all your requirements: Sparkling - Yes. Different - sparkling Gamay ros&eacute;? Yes! Wallet friendly - Yes! Even the name is fun (sound out the name in French and you pronounce &quot;effervescent&quot;). As a bonus, the grapes were organically farmed and naturally vinified by the ancestrale method. The wine is lightly sparkling, off-dry and pure fun. It will pair better with a fruit or cream based pastry than with chocolates, but you wanted something different anyway. So, pick up the flowers, a couple of handmade pastries, a bottle of FRV100 and you&#39;re all set!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Jeff Burrows</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Food Wine Click</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Malene Ros&eacute; Central Coast California 2016</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Truth be told, Valentine&#39;s Day is not a favorite holiday for this very single wine lover. However, when I stumbled across the 2016 Malene Ros&eacute;, Central Coast, California (SRP $22), I was immediately smitten with both the story and the wine. If you want to taste this wine before buying, Malene does not have a traditional tasting room, but rather a cute and fun 1969 Airstream Overlander trailer, which means pop-up tastings can take place anywhere, including its regular parking spot beside Chamisal Vineyards in San Luis Obispo, California. Malene&#39;s sole purpose is to craft a direct-press, Proven&ccedil;al-style ros&eacute; from a blend of grapes - grenache, cinsault, vermentino (rolle), mourv&egrave;dre, and counoise - and ferment and age the wine using a blend of vessels, including stainless steel, oak puncheons, and a French oak foudre. The barely there, salmon-pink color of this ros&eacute; comes from immediate whole-cluster pressing of 80% of the juice off the skins, while the other 20% sees 24 hours of skin contact. Both floral and red berry aromatics lead to a wine on the palate that explodes with raspberry, strawberry, and pink grapefruit fruitiness, while accompanied by a creaminess from six months of sur lie aging. Whether it be Valentine&#39;s Day or any day of the year, the Malene Ros&eacute; will captivate your heart and your senses.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>​Elizabeth Smith</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Traveling Wine Chick</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Massimago Valpolicella DOC 2016</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> A Valentine&rsquo;s Day celebration with the one you love deserves a wine rich in perfume evoking old memories, yet vibrant, with freshness, reminding us that the best is yet to come with our romance; and so I recommend the 2016 Massimago Valpolicella DOC, made near the classic city of love - Verona and the story of Romeo and Juliet. Massimago was started in 2003 by one of the up-and-coming younger generation of Valpolicella, Camilla Rossi Chauvenet, and I have had the pleasure of visiting her fairytale estate. It was fantastic to see her again last October, this time in New York City, and to learn that her husband proposed to her during their first trip to the Big Apple. The 2016 Massimago Valpolicella, retailing around $20, is a dry, light-bodied yet generous wine with red cherries and rose petals, with a velvety texture and hints of wild strawberry and sage on the bright finish. A light red wine that can even win over the most rugged of hearts, such as Ernest Hemingway who was known to favor Valpolicella as his wine of choice. Whether it is with a new or old partnership, Valpolicella fills lovers&rsquo; heads with beautiful dreams, and the Massimago version especially can show how something old can become excitingly new again.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Cathrine Todd</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Dame Wine</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Pascal Berthier Esprit de S&eacute;duction 2016</strong><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> Nothing says &ldquo;Love&rdquo; for Valentine&rsquo;s Day quite like&hellip;well the word &ldquo;Love&rdquo;, or as translated in French, &ldquo;Amour&rdquo;.&nbsp; And nothing says &ldquo;Amour&rdquo; better than the Beaujolais Cru of Saint-Amour. Designated as a Cru in 1946, Saint-Amour is the most northerly and the second smallest of the Beaujolais crus. Of course, it is considered the most romantic of the Beaujolais wines. So much so that 20 to 25 percent of Saint-Amour sales occur in February. You might even find a heart on the label of a bottle of Saint-Amour. Fortunately, the wines of Saint-Amour are no mere Valentine&rsquo;s Day contrivance to be foist upon incurable romantics who know nothing of wine. They are seriously good wines. For example, the 2016 Pascal Berthier &quot;Esprit de S&eacute;duction&quot; is very food friendly wine that pours ruby red with seductive ripe strawberry, red cherry liqueur, and delicate spice aromas accented by a bouquet of floral aromas and a hint of damp earth. On the palate, it&rsquo;s medium-bodied and fresh with velvety tannins and flirty, fruit-forward flavors of raspberry, tart red cherries, red cherry liqueur, and spice. And speaking of the spirit of seduction, pair this wine with Chef J&eacute;sus Hurtado&#39;s Grilled Oysters with Croquant Vegetables. It&rsquo;s fun dish you can make with your Valentine!&nbsp; And for dessert, pair it with a &ldquo;Little Black Cake. Love will surely be in the air!&nbsp; SRP - $15 &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Martin Redmond</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>ENOFYLZ Wine Blog</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Pedroncelli Four Grapes Vintage Port 2012</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> No Valentine&#39;s Day dinner is complete without a sweet tooth-satisfying dessert. As Cupid shoots his arrows of love into the night, you should be uncorking Pedroncelli&rsquo;s Four Grapes 2012 Vintage Port (SRP $20, 500ML). The winery has produced more than twenty vintages of this port-styled wine,and you know what they say: practice makes perfect. In a few words, it is lip-smacking delicious. The wine is made from four traditional Portuguese grape varieties, all sourced from Pedroncelli&rsquo;s estate-vineyard, in Sonoma County&rsquo;s Dry Creek Valley. The grapes are harvested as a field-blend, and aged in small seasoned oak barrels for four years. The 2012 vintage is the current release. I recommend serving it at cool room temperature in small cordial glasses. You will discover aromas and flavors of dark rich berries and sweet black plum, alongside warm baking spice and notes of dark chocolate bark. The palate is richly textured, and the wine strikes a fine balance between fruit, acidity, sweetness, and alcohol. Enjoy this wine with a decadent chocolate dessert like brownies or a rich and moist slice of chocolate cake. It is also an excellent after dinner sipper all by itself. Whatever you choose, have a wonderful Valentine&rsquo;s Day, friends!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Dezel Quillen</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>My Vine Spot</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Quivivra Petite Sirah Dry Creek Valley California 2013</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Valentine&#39;s Day is unquestionably a special occasion for the wine lover. Unlike Thanksgiving table, where you are guaranteed to have family who would appreciate two buck chuck a lot more than Chateau Latour, and you need to think about a smorgasbord of dishes ready to clash with whatever wine you will decide on, Valentine&#39;s Day is different. There are only you and your significant other who should be pleased, and the dinner menu is a lot easier to control. Besides, you want to make it a sensual experience before, during and after the dinner (yep). Now, this is not an easy choice we have to make here, as we only have $25 to work with, instead of going traditional &quot;sky is the limit&quot; way. Not that $25 limit makes it impossible, but it is a lot more challenging. Here is my choice&nbsp; - 2013 Quivivra Petite Sirah Dry Creek Valley, California. This wine offers an ultimate pleasure - a perfect balance. Fresh berries on the nose, well restrained, and beautiful berries wrapped in the dark chocolate on the palate. Velvety, silky smooth, layered, with perfect balance of tannins, fruit and acidity. This wine would work equally well with a steak and a chocolate dessert, and deliver lots of sensual pleasure - exactly what we are looking for. And - all of it - for about $20, truly a great value. Happy Valentine&#39;s Day!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Anatoli Levine</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Talk-a-Vino</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Secret Squirrel Bordeaux Blend 2014</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Whether you have a special someone or simply love life, Valentine&rsquo;s Day calls for an excellent wine. But choosing just one is next to impossible, let alone one that costs less than $25. Thankfully, Secret Squirrel from Washington state offers a robust Bordeaux blend at that price point. It&rsquo;s hard not to love Secret Squirrel, a fun and delicious project from Corliss Estates in Walla Walla. First, the wine drinks like a more expensive bottle. The 2014 red blend features Cabernet Sauvignon (43%), Merlot (20%), Cabernet Franc (15%), Petit Verdot (13%) and Malbec (9%). This is a rich, well-structured wine, particularly for the price. Second, there&rsquo;s that Secret Squirrel label! From an image of a squirrel in a red mask on the front, to this description on the back, you will smile.<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <em>&ldquo;Taste me. Once you taste me, you&rsquo;ll want to squirrel me away. You see, I&rsquo;m not to be circulated among your average party guests. You know, the ones content to fill their glass to the rim with whatever&rsquo;s within arms reach. No, I&rsquo;m the one you discreetly hide behind the espresso machine and snag for those like-minded associates who love to share a good secret.&rdquo;</em><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> Enjoy a bottle with a friend &mdash; or if you want to be a secret Valentine, what better way than with Secret Squirrel?<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Margot Sinclair Savell</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Write for Wine &ndash; It&rsquo;s Wine O&rsquo;Clock Somewhere!</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Woven Wineworks Woven White Sparkling Cuv&eacute;e 2015</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Deciding to choose a Valentine&#39;s Day wine based on its relevant label or festive color does not mean there&#39;s a need to sacrifice the quality of the wine that&#39;s inside that picture-perfect bottle.&nbsp; Browsing through the Ros&eacute; section of a local wine shop will undoubtedly unveil an abundance of pink-hued, perfectly palatable wines under $25 dollars, but when in search of a celebratory wine that will truly woo a special Valentine&#39;s palate and heart, there&#39;s nothing better than a bottle of Woven Wineworks 2015 Woven White Sparkling Cuv&eacute;e.&nbsp; This effervescent, tiny bubbled blend of Chardonnay, Riesling and Pinot Gris (with its honey and white flower notes highlighted by solid acidity and a rounded lush mouthfeel), pairs perfectly with a big bowl of buttery popcorn -&nbsp; a necessary nibble when cuddling up on the couch with your number one while honing in on a good movie.&nbsp; But the story behind the bottle&#39;s label that boasts a beautiful vintage wedding photo, makes this wine extra special.&nbsp; The photo featured on the label is of the mother and father of Woven Wineworks co-founder and vine to glass extraordinaire, Elaina Spring, and they are toasting their special day with Champagne-filled glasses.&nbsp; Woven Wineworks produces a small collection of exceptional wines crafted from extraordinary fruit grown on the family farm in Oregon&#39;s famed Willamette Valley. The family believes memorable wine is made with passion and love, and every bottle features a different family photo from the past that holds and shares a story in every glass. The Sparkling Cuv&eacute;e&#39;s story is all about lasting love, making it the ultimate wine for Valentine&#39;s Day. To watch a video interview with Elaina Spring, and to find out how Woven Wineworks became Oregon&#39;s first Craft Certified winery, visit <a href=""></a>.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Julia Crowley</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>The Real Wine Julia</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> </p> Tue, 13 Feb 2018 00:00:00 -0500 article7023 The Sparkling Wine Issue Mark Angelillo <p>A handful of key regions dominate the sparkling wine scene, and with good reason. Sparklers are often reserved for special occasions and so we shy away from the unknown. But the truth is that a great number of wine regions are making sparkling wines and many of them are worth the risk. Regardless of your stance on Valentine&rsquo;s Day, it&rsquo;s never a bad time to sample sparkling wine from a variety of regions &ndash; both the mainstays and the niche. You may see more of them around this time of year when demand for sparkling wine spikes once again. The issue for many wine drinkers is access to these niche bottles. Don&rsquo;t forget to engage your local retailers about the bottles you don&rsquo;t see on their shelves. Now please join me on a trip around the globe in pursuit of superior sparkling wines.<br /> <strong>Limoux, France</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> It is believed by some that Limoux (rather than Champagne) is the region where secondary fermentation in bottle was first practiced.&nbsp; Limoux is much cooler than nearby regions because of the extremely high elevation of the vineyards and the influence of the Atlantic. The ability of this climate to produce refreshing wines with bright acidity has led its residents to specialize in sparkling wine.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em>Try:</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Gerard Bertrand Cremant de Limoux Brut 2014</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Brazil</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Brazil&rsquo;s biggest international export is sparkling wines of high quality, exceptional acidity, and freshness. You will find them made in both traditional and charmat methods. The staple Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes are often used but you may find native varietals being used as well.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> This brand is a good bet for a tasty wine to please a variety of palates.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em>Try:</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Lidio Carraro Faces do Brasil Pinot Noir Brut Rose Brazil NV</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Long Island</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> There are a lot of hidden wine gems on Long Island&rsquo;s North Fork, and Lieb is one of them. The North Fork is surrounded by the Long Island Sound is to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the south, and in the middle, splitting the two forks, is the Peconic Bay. This, to me, brings notes of sea breeze to the wines that are hard to find elsewhere.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> This particular wine received 90 points from Wine Advocate.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Try:<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Lieb Cellars Reserve Sparkling Rose North Fork of Long Island 2015</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>New Zealand</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> There is a large contingent of New Zealand devotees in the wine world. They are attracted to the delicate, terroir-driven flavors that are truly unique to New Zealand.&nbsp; The nose is usually a dead giveaway when it comes to New Zealand wines. The sparkling wines of New Zealand preserve the region&rsquo;s unique aromatics. They are a great gift to those who appreciate the herbaceous quality for which these wines are well-known. I&rsquo;m one of them.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Try:<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>McBride Sisters Collection Brut Rose Marlborough NV</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>South Africa</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Chenin Blanc has been in France since the 9th century but calls South Africa its adopted home. While you can find great sparkling Chenin Blanc in Vouvray, South Africa provides some excellent options at a terrific value.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Try:</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Saltare Brut Reserve Swartland NV</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Washington</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Wine drinkers still have a lot to discover about Washington State wines. Treveri is a family-owned shop that specializes in Washington sparkling wine. As Washington&rsquo;s popularity continues to grow and larger outfits continue to acquire vineyards in the region, this is one to watch.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Try:</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Treveri Blanc de Noirs Brut Reserve NV</strong></a></p> Fri, 02 Feb 2018 00:00:00 -0500 article7022 Wine Grape Study Guide: Georgia Gabe Sasso <p>The country of Georgia has produced wine for more than 8,000 vintages. While spending a recent week there it was easy to see how deeply embedded wine is in the nation&rsquo;s culture. More than 500 native grape varieties exist and their production methodologies are distinct. At first blush that makes it seem like everything is old news, in a sense it&rsquo;s really quite new. During times of Soviet rule Georgian winemakers were forced to plant grapes with high yields at the expense of what would be best suited for exceptional wines. Much of the production during these times was for sparkling wines, many of them sweet, to appease the Soviet palates. Once they declared their independence in 1995, the modern era of Georgian wine started to take shape. And in the current times, everything old is new again. Winemakers across the country are predominately working with less than 10 varieties. Simultaneously grape growers are experimenting with additional varieties to learn which others might thrive in their respective regions. Some of this work is being done at a national &ldquo;grape library&rdquo; that is growing each of those 500+ indigenous varieties, plus some international ones as well.<br /> In addition to predominately working with indigenous varieties there are other factors that set Georgian wines apart. Traditional methodology dictates that fermentation take place in Kvevri&rsquo;s (sometimes spelled Qvervi). These clay vessels range in size from 50 to 2,500 liters. The Kvervi&rsquo;s are buried in the wine cellar with just the top peeking out above the surface. After pressing, the wines sit on the skins in the Kvervi&rsquo;s for an extended period of time; 3 to 6 months is most common. In many cases after the skins and wine are separated the wine returns to the Kvervi for additional aging. These processes produce white wines that appear orange in color, although the Georgians commonly refer to them as amber. They retain the freshness and verve of white wines while taking on some of the texture, body and mouthfeel of reds.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Red grapes are also grown in Georgia, particularly in the east which is generally home to larger producers with more vineyard land and winery footprints. Traditional Georgian methodology is largely employed there as well but the use of oak barrels instead of, or in conjunction with Kvervi&rsquo;s is more common. This traditional methodology, along with indigenous varieties is what sets Georgia apart from other wine growing countries. The easiest way to get a handle on what they&rsquo;re all about is to taste some orange Georgian wines. In addition to being unique in color, texture and mouthfeel they&rsquo;re eminently food friendly. Typical Georgian meals feature many small plates served family style. A typical local orange wine pairs well with everything on the table.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Here is a breakdown of key wine grapes from Georgia:<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Rkatsitieli</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> 43% of all vineyard plantings in Georgia are Rkatsitieli, making it the most important white variety in Georgia. Rkatsitieli originates in Eastern Georgia. Since its aromatic profile is subtle Rkatsitieli is often blended with other grapes such as Mtsvane Kakhuri for PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) blends tied to specific areas.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Kisi</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> This white grape thrives on the Eastern wine regions of Georgia, in and around Kakheti. Some produce it using traditional skin contact and Kvervi aging while others choose an international style and use tank fermentation and aging. Those made in Kvervi tend towards stone and tropical fruit flavors while tank fermented variants tend to showcase orchard fruits such as pear.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Chinuri</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> This typically high acid grape is one of the latest ripening whites. It&rsquo;s used in the production of light colored whites with soft, lush flavors. When aged on its skins in Kvervi it becomes orange or amber. Chinuri is also utilized as a component in the production of Sparkling Wine. This is the grape used by Iago, one of the Georgian winemakers with the greatest acclaim outside the country.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Mtsvane Kakhuri</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> This grape thrives in the Kakheti region. It tends to produce wines marked by stone fruit and mineral components. Due to a favorable aromatic profile it&rsquo;s often used along with Rkatsitieli to produce the traditional PDO blend Tsinandali.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Tsitska</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Native to Georgia&rsquo;s Wild West region of Imereti, Tsitska is a thick skinned variety that produces higher than average grape yields. This high acid grape is bottled both by itself and in PDO blends. Yellow melon, Bartlett pear and a honeyed edge are typical characteristics.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Tsolikouri</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> In Georgia&rsquo;s cutting edge, Wild West region Tsolikouri is the leading white grape. This late ripening variety produces full bodied whites that are particularly suitable for long skin contact and Kvervi aging. When it&rsquo;s used in PDO blends it&rsquo;s often combined with lighter bodied grapes. Citrus aromas, fleshy yellow fruit and deeply layered favors are representative of Tsolikouri.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Ojaleshi</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> This lesser planted grape exists in both red and white variants. Ojaleshi is a thin skinned variety with a strong aromatic profile. Soft, lush flavors dominated by orchard fruit character punctuated by hints of tropical fruit are typical. Of the hundreds of wines I tasted in Georgia Ojaleshi was responsible for my single favorite bottle from a week spent tasting there. It turns out that particular bottle has already made its presence felt at a couple of forward thinking American wine bars.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Saperavi</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Georgia&rsquo;s dominate red grape can be found all over the country and even in a few international locations. Saperavi thrives in the Eastern Georgia region of Kakheti. In ideal conditions it can produce dry red wines with aging potential. It shares some aromatic and taste markers with Malbec and Merlot. Dark berry fruit, intense aromatics, hints of cocoa, leather and tobacco are all part of the typical Saperavi profile. These characteristics will vary based on numerous conditions including vinification methodology.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Recommended Bottles to Seek:</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Tchotiashvili Vineyards 2015 Kisi<br /><br /> Schuchmann Wines 2014 Kisi<br /><br /> Iago 2015 Chinuri<br /><br /> Pheasant&rsquo;s Tears 2013 Chinouri<br /><br /> Mandili 2015 Mtsvane<br /><br /> Papari Valley 2016 &ldquo;Three Terraces&rdquo; Rkatsitieli<br /><br /> Pheasant&rsquo;s Tears 2016 Rkatsitieli<br /><br /> Keto&rsquo;s 2015 Naked Ojaleshi<br /><br /> Archil Guniava&rsquo;s Wine Cellar 2016 Kvaliti<br /><br /> Vino M&rsquo;artville 2016 Tsolikouri<br /><br /> Papari Valley 2016 Saperavi<br /><br /> Makado 2014 Saperavi<br /><br /> </p> Fri, 26 Jan 2018 00:00:00 -0500 article7021 Life Before and After Brunello Mark Angelillo <p>Montalcino, a Tuscan town in Central Italy, is known for its superior wines. It is home to the highly extolled Brunello di Montalcino and Rosso di Montalcino, two Sangiovese grape-based wines of great renown. Both classifications (Brunello di Montalcino and Rosso di Montalcino) are produced in accordance with strict Italian winemaking laws that ensure quality product. Brunello di Montalcino received its classification in 1966. Rosso di Montalcino followed in 1984. We&rsquo;ve discussed these wines at length over the years.<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> But something else happened in Montalcino in 1984 &ndash; another DOC was granted, one that is often overshadowed by its bigger and bolder brothers. Here I am referring to DOC Moscadello di Montalcino. The wines must be made with 100 percent White Muscat. In addition to late harvest wines, some still and sparkling versions are produced. These wines are Easter eggs on the US market. They are hard to find, but well worth the pursuit. As wine drinkers start to consider, more and more, a place for late harvest wines in their oeuvre, we turn out attention to Moscadello di Montalcino.<br /> Late Harvest Moscadello di Montalcino dates back to the 17th century. It is referenced in Franceso Redi&#39;s circa 1685 poem &quot;Bacco in Toscana&quot;. As the popularity of Brunello grew, many producers replaced their White Muscat vines with Sangiovese. People drink more red wine than late harvest wine, and that&#39;s a fact. The decision to replace the vines was a matter of economics -- not poor quality. Gratefully, there are a handful of producers who uphold the tradition of these wines. Production is small. If you can&rsquo;t find one of these at your local retailer, be sure to visit one of these wineries during your next visit to the region.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Mastro Janni Botrys Moscadello di Montalcino 2007</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Candied orange peel and peach notes with the creamy nutty aromas of age showing here on the nose. Thick molasses and orange marmalade flavors on the palate with rose petal floral notes and dried apricot fruit. This is showing its age at this point but still has a lot of flavor. Syrupy sweet and decadent.<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Caprili Moscadello di Montalcino 2015</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Fragrant aromas of lychee fruit and honeyed ripe pears on the nose are very inviting and quite floral. Off dry in the mouth and very juicy, this has just enough acidity to balance the sweetness and liven the full, robust palate of honey, honey crisp apple, light lemon and creme br&ucirc;l&eacute;e cream.<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Capanna Moscadello di Montalcino 2015</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Highly floral gardenia and white peach aromas with a bit of salinity. Off dry on the palate and while this does show good fruit flavors of apple and melon, somehow the sweetness overshadows the other notes, leading to a mostly floral rose garden finish.<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Capanna Moscadello di Montalcino 2011</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Today this shows some developing notes of caramel, candied orange peel and butterscotch with a lemon creme note on the nose. A bit of oxidization has led to a caramel color and like flavors on the palate, this could almost be a dessert wine due to the full sweetness and the rich texture that comes with age. It&#39;s soft now, and I&#39;m not sure how many years might be left here but right now it&#39;s quite lovely.<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Castello Banfi Florus Late Harvest Moscadello di Montalcino 2012</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Savory orange marmalade and candied lemon peel aromas with fresh flowers on the nose. Fresh, nectarine and tangerine flavors on the palate, medium full bodied and sweet without being viscous, a touch of brown sugar, lemon Crema and melted butter through to the finish. Decadent and fruity with a spicy edge throughout.<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>La Poderina Moscadello di Montalcino 2014</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Honeyed and floral tangerine notes with a bit of a flour and yeast note and preserved lemon peel. Medium-full bodied and off dry on the palate, this is deceptively sweet, presenting orange peel and orange liqueur notes with juicy acidity and a finish that&#39;s somewhat lighter, quite floral and with good length.<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Mocali Moscadello di Montalcino 2013</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Earthy, dry and herbal aromas of savory butter, clay, with orange and apple fruit taking a back seat. Much fruitier in the mouth with orange marmalade and white blossom notes, this has driving oak through the mid palate, a creamy texture and a continued hint of something savory and barnyard like, quite pleasant and intriguing. More orange and grape flavors on the lengthy finish.</p> Fri, 19 Jan 2018 00:00:00 -0500 article7020 Drink Port for Warmth this Winter Michelle Williams <p>Symington is an iconic name in wine. For over four generations the Symington name has been synonymous with high quality port. If the name is unfamiliar their port houses are certainly not; Graham&rsquo;s, Cockburn, Dow, and Warre are among the best producers in the world. After spending week with the Symington&rsquo;s I came away with a few observations: First, they are a kind, hospitable, and humble family; second, they fully understand quality port starts in the vineyards and they honor this with organic and low intervention practices; third, they honor their heritage and customers by marrying modernization with traditional practices to make the best port possible; and finally, I need to drink more port.<br /> <strong>History of Port</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Port wine owes its birth to England. Grapes have been cultivated in Portugal since antiquity, but it wasn&rsquo;t until the 17th century that wines known as Port, or at that time Oporto, were shipped from Portugal to England. During this time England, a country until recently unable to produce its own wine, imported wine from France. When war broke out between the two countries in the 17th century England boycotted French wine, looking to Portugal to fulfill its wine needs. However, the Portuguese wines struggled to survive the long sea journey. To stabilize the wine a small amount of brandy was added. This fortified the wine, allowing it to survive the journey.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> In 1703, England and Portugal signed the Methuen Treaty, stipulating Portuguese wines imported into England were subject to 1/3 less tax than French wines. This encouraged English and Scottish merchants to begin a long history of Port trade.&nbsp; In 1756, the Marqu&ecirc;s de Pombal demarcated Portugal&rsquo;s Douro region. From that point &ldquo;true&rdquo; port wine can only come from this region. During the phylloxera outbreak in the 19th century the Douro, like other wine regions, was devastated. During this time many Portuguese vintners walked away from their vineyards in economic collapse. This marks the shift in vineyard ownership from Portuguese to British/Scottish, and the founding of many of today&rsquo;s famous Port houses.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The Symington Family has Scottish, English, and Portuguese ancestry. Their lineage in Port traces back to the 17th century. In 1882, Andrew James Symington sailed from his home in Scotland to Porto at age 19 to work for Grahams. By 1905, he became a partner in Warre &amp; Co, established in 1670, and the oldest British port house in Portugal, and by 1908 was its sole owner. Today the Symington&rsquo;s have 2,461 hectares of land in the Douro spanning 26 estates. These quintas house more than 4,000 hectares of vines. These estates have been cared for by the Symington family for centuries and amount to the most significant vineyard holding in the Douro. This family owned and managed business is one of the leading port producers, responsible for 32% of the ports crafted in all premium Port categories.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>What is Port</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Port is a fortified red wine from grapes grown in Portugal&rsquo;s Douro Valley. There are up to five grapes that are blended to make port. These grapes are Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Tinta C&atilde;o, and Tinta Barocca, with the first three used the most. The production of port begins like any other wine. Grapes of the Douro battle low rainfall, high temperatures, grueling sun, and low-nutrient soil. After months of these conditions, the grapes are harvested in the fall, a difficult task given the Douro&rsquo;s steep terrace vineyards. The difficult climate, rugged terrain, and transportation challenges combine to make the grapes of the Douro the most expensive wine grapes in the world.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Following harvest, the grapes are pressed using lagares. Traditionally this was done with rows of &ldquo;foot treaders&rdquo; lightly crushing the grapes in large open-air cement or stone tanks. However, in 1998 Peter and Charles Symington introduced the first modern lagar in the Douro. This modern lagar is a machine designed to replicate the gentle action of the human foot to crush the grapes, in a temperature controlled environment where the winemaker uses a computer to determine duration and frequency needed to produce the desired level of fermentation. These modern lagars are now used throughout the Douro. When the winemaker determines the desired amount of the grapes natural sugar has been converted into alcohol the neutral brandy fortification begins, stopping the fermentation and allowing the wine to maintain its youthful fruit notes. This allows the wine to reach up to 20% alcohol while heightening its sweetness.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The Symington Family are responsible for 9 wineries across the Douro. They utilize organic practices where possible while embracing limited intervention in all of their vineyards. Due to the extreme conditions in the Douro there is no need for pesticides and herbicides. As mentioned earlier the Symington&rsquo;s&rsquo; are responsible for the modern lagar, and they are the only port company with their own cooperage. With over 55,000 oak pipes, having coopers on site at Graham&rsquo;s Lodge allows them to actively maintain of these barrels essential to the aging of port.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The Douro is divided into three categories. The majority of the Symington&rsquo;s vineyards are located in the Cima Corgo and Douro Superior regions. This allows them to grow the highest quality grapes to produce the best ports possible.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em>&ldquo;We want to make serious port wines, but wines people can enjoy without waiting 20 years.&rdquo;</em> ~ Rupert Symington<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Types of Port</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> As the wine ages in large oak pipes the winemaker has to determine what type of port it will become. This is where to fun begins.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Ruby Port</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> This style is fruit forward, approachable, full-bodied, young wine aged for a short 3 years&rsquo; time in oak pipes. This youthful wine is crafted into Late Bottle Vintage Ports or Reserve Ports. These wines are intended to be consumed young, are very food friendly, and quite popular in the US. Ruby port can be consumed upon purchase and served just below room temperature. Once open it will last if kept cool for several days or longer.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Cockburn&rsquo;s Special Reserve</strong>, the world&rsquo;s number one choice of reserve port. This reserve is lively and easily approachable. Notes of concentrated black cherry, baked plums, dark chocolate, licorice, espresso, medicinal notes, fading red flowers, the aromas go on and on. This is a seductive port, a real crowd pleaser, with layers of flavors and a beautifully balanced palate. No wonder its number one. Serve it in a full wine glass at a cooler room temperature. Rupert Symington explains, &ldquo;Cockburn&rsquo;s is about Douro Superior. It&rsquo;s not a terror based wine, but it&rsquo;s about a terroir.&rdquo;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Graham&rsquo;s Six Grapes</strong> is a young and fruity port. This port is typically a blend of two different vintages from grapes sourced from Graham&rsquo;s five mountain vineyards, and aged up to two years in season oak casks. It is designed to be enjoyed upon purchase rather than aged. Stewed fruit, balsamic, eucalyptus, dates, cocoa; seductive, layered, and highly enjoyable.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Dow&rsquo;s 2011 Late Bottled Vintage</strong> is dark and jammy notes of black fruit dance with dried raisin notes of black and red fruit, rich dark chocolate, holiday spice notes of cloves, cinnamon, and added complexity of damp tobacco notes with violets; muscular in body and style, bold and rich through the finish.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Warre&rsquo;s Warrior Reserve</strong> is the oldest brand of port in the world, having been shipped continuously since the 1750&rsquo;s. Its traditional style remains today in the full body, rich wine. Notes of dried fruit, red berries, figs, balsamic, Asian five spice, dark chocolate, coffee, and licorice; full-bodied, more masculine, rich, and opulent. This is a meaty port in a traditional style.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Tawny Port</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> This style is a blend of older vintages. Its deep amber color is due to its time in oak. Tawny port has notes of dried figs, apricots, nuttiness, and even caramel or butterscotch. Aged tawnies are commonly designated as 10, 20, 30, 40 years. This refers to the characteristics of the wine, rather than its exact time aged in pipes. Aged tawnies are blended with other tawnies of various ages with the compilation of their age equally the number on the bottle. Think non-vintage Champagne. Each Port house has a style they seek to achieve with each designation of their aged tawnies. Tawny port can be consumed upon purchase, enjoy chilled. Once opened it will last if kept cool for several days or longer.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Graham&rsquo;s 10 Year Tawny Port</strong> is elegant, striking a delicate balance between notes of a rich nuttiness, honey, and fig and deeper notes of spices with a hint of dark chocolate that develops due to its aging in seasoned oak casks until it reaches the peak of maturity.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Graham&rsquo;s 20 Year Tawny Port</strong> offers notes of figs and dates, pumpkin pie spice notes of cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice, orange peel, caramel, roasted espresso, roasted nuts, with a rich body that is beautifully balanced and lively acidity. It is elegant and sophisticated yet lively and energized. It feels like Coltrane&rsquo;s notes dancing across the palate.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Vintage Port</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> This style is crafted of the best grapes from the best vineyards in the best years. Not every vintages produces a vintage port. Vintage ports can be crafted of a blend of grapes from a blend of vineyards (known as <em>quintas</em>), or it can represent a single <em>quinta</em>, this is up to the winemaker&rsquo;s discretion. The decision to declare a vintage is made two years after harvest. If the winemaker decides the port meets vintage criteria the wine is bottled for further aging. Vintage ports can be enjoyed in their youth with an array of primary aromas and flavors, but to experience the full secondary notes of a great vintage port cellar it properly and it will last for many decades. Enjoy slightly chilled. Once opened it will last several weeks.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Cockburn&rsquo;s 2011 Vintage Port</strong> offers layers of juicy cherries, raspberries, and blackberries, with red floral notes, dark chocolate, kirsch, leather, minerality; pure, powerful, masculine, refined, complex wine that delivers on every level.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Dow&rsquo;s 2004 Quinta do Bomfim Vintage Port</strong> is decadence in a bottle. Notes of ripe berries, red flowers, raisins, baking spice notes of cinnamon and cloves; with firm tannins and balanced acidity provide many decades of cellaring for this beautiful wine. Bomfim is a classic river quinta with an A-rating that is the heart of some of the Dow&rsquo;s best ports. Furthermore, Dow&rsquo;s 2011 Vintage was awarded Wine Spectator&rsquo;s Wine of the Year. Rupert Symington explains, &ldquo;Dow&rsquo;s is a true craft port.&rdquo;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> If you can get your hands on any of the Symington&rsquo;s 2011 ports do so quickly. Rupert Symington predicts, &ldquo;We will look back on the 2011 vintage in 20 &ndash; 30 years and say &lsquo;Wow.&rsquo;&rdquo;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Rupert Symington explains, &ldquo;Port is driven by house style. Consumers graduate to a style they like the most.&rdquo; Each of these ports is crafted in the individual style of the port house. If you are new to port I encourage you to get to know each of these four labels, their style and their charms. Each brand produces an array of port styles.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The Symington Family invites you to visit them. Cockburn&rsquo;s Lodge is located across the river from Porto in Vila Nova de Gaia. Visitors are welcome for a fun tour and tasting experience; book your appointment online. Nearby is Graham&rsquo;s Lodge. Here you will not only experience a wonderful tasting and tour, but as Graham&rsquo;s is a working cellar, sounds of cooper&rsquo;s hammers drift through the air, providing an authentic experience. Furthermore, Graham&rsquo;s is home to Vinium Restaurant and Wine Bar, providing authentic local cuisine paired with only the best wines of the Douro. Book early for a spectacular view of the Gaia and Porto. Finally, travel into the heart of the Douro Valley to experience Quinta do Bomfim, offering tours of the cellars and vineyards, and tastings on the terrace overlooking the Douro River and vineyards.</p> Fri, 12 Jan 2018 00:00:00 -0500 article7018 The Sparkling Wine Trendsetter of 2017 Mark Angelillo <p>Back in 2010, less than one million cases of Prosecco were imported to the United States. These days we&#39;re looking at about 4 million cases. The holidays are incomplete without Prosecco for so many Americans. But for me, the holidays are incomplete without Prosecco Superiore DOCG. The distinction is terrifically important for a variety of reasons.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Much of the Prosecco Superiore you see is made in Conegliano Valdobbiadene, a region located just north of Venice. It has been synonymous with premier quality Prosecco for many generations. During my first region visit in 2015, I was sold. Vines have been grown here since the beginning of knowable time. The people of this region know their land inside and out. This is why you will see bottles of Prosecco DOCG labeled by specific rive (<em>hillsides</em>) and cru (<em>field</em>). While they are joined together as a single region, <em>Conegliano</em> and <em>Valdobbiadene</em> are two separate towns; you may see one or the other on the label.<br /> What I appreciate most about Prosecco DOCG is the vibrant aromatics in every bottle. The Glera grape, once known as Prosecco, delivers gentle and complex floral and lemon citrus aromas. Still versions of the Glera grape (known as &ldquo;Tranquilo&rdquo;) are not widely available, but when I had the chance to taste one I jumped. Still Glera demonstrates the grape&rsquo;s inherent characteristics, and I was impressed to discover that this essence is preserved in sparkling Prosecco DOCG &ndash;&nbsp; this is not something one can say for all sparkling wines. Prosecco wine is disarming, delicious, and available at fantastic values. Read on for some of my favorites.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Morene Tranquilo Prosecco Conegliano 2016</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Clean, light melon and lemon aromas with touches of green apple and soft spice. A bit tart on entry, this fills in around the edges with pear and melon flavors and a silky texture, finishing with an earthy, dry finish with a glimpse of honeysuckle.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Sei Uno Rive di Carpesica Prosecco Superiore Conegliano Valdobbiadene 2015</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Light melon and peach aromas with notes of honeysuckle and toasted oak. Easy drinking and approachable on the palate with a zesty fruit blend of lemon, peach and kiwi, this is tart and precise, boldly spiced yet somehow delicate on the mid palate with a nicely sustained mineral finish. 90 pts.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Malibran Credamora Col Fondo Prosecco Valdobbiadene 2015</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Intriguingly cloudy appearance, creamy and biscuity aromas of mild wet clay with fresh lemon and grapefruit notes. On the palate this is soft and gentle with a smooth mouthfeel of delicate bubbles, warm floral spice and creamy oak on the mid palate and tart grapefruit and lemon zest adding a lively freshness towards the finish.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Ruggeri Vecchie Viti Prosecco Superiore Brut Valdobbiadene 2016</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Floral melon and lemon aromas with candied peach and vanilla biscotti on the nose. Smooth, delicate and refreshing on the palate with citrus notes of lemon zest and light grapefruit, a tart mid palate with hints of watermelon candy and a finish of almonds, cream and fresh golden berries.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Masottina Le Rive di Ogliano Prosecco Superiore Extra Dry Conegliano Valdobbiadene 2016</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Floral and light with notes of green apple, Meyer lemon, pink grapefruit and powdered sugar on the nose. On the palate this starts off energetic and tart with melon and lemon fruit and bold acidity, eventually revealing a creamy texture with fine balance and smooth nutty caramel and toast notes alongside dried peach. Approachable and refreshing with lots here to like.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Biancariva Rive de Collalto Prosecco Superiore Conegliano Valdobbiadene NV</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Yeasty and floral aromas of green apple and melon with a touch of tropical fruit. This is tart and zesty on the palate with lemon pith and creamy texture, notes of buttery brioche and crisp winter pear and green apple, frothy carbonation and a long leesy finish of aged cheese and grapefruit skin.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Silvano Follador Prosecco Superiore Brut Nature Valdobbiadene 2016</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Lightly and pleasantly spiced peach, pear and green apple aromas with some white blossom and vanilla frosting notes. Bold, zesty on the palate with more of a citrus focus, lemon and grapefruit notes with a green note of lemongrass and dried herb, finishing with a bit of apple and light cream. Clean and fresh.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>La Tordera Otreval Rive di Guia Brut Prosecco Superiore Valdobbiadene 2017</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Creamy almond aromas with a yeasty note and hints of lime zest and green apple. On the palate this is very dry, refreshing and full of zesty citrus notes of lime and grapefruit, green apple and tart lemon pith, finishing creamy and delicate with a nutty, toasted note of buttery brioche with a touch of melon.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Val D&rsquo;Oca Rive de Santo Stefano Brut Nature Prosecco Superiore Valdobbiadene 2016</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Mandarin orange, lemon and dried herbs on the nose, crisp and light with a light floral note. Pure fruited and floral on the palate with creamy honey butter notes to start, green apple, pear and lemon on the mid palate and tangerine and croissant notes on the finish, zesty and refreshing with tart, stinging bubbles and a nutty dessert quality on the finish. 91 pts.</p> Fri, 29 Dec 2017 00:00:00 -0500 article7014