Snooth - Articles Read the opinions of wine professionals en-us Sat, 25 Apr 2015 19:42:20 -0400 Sat, 25 Apr 2015 19:42:20 -0400 Snooth Swiss Drinkers Cutting Back On Wine Consumption James Duren <p>Switzerland&#39;s wine consumers spent 2014 doing something other than drinking wine, according to a recent story by Swiss news site Swiss Info.<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;Last year 264 million litres of wine were consumed in Switzerland, 7.5 million litres less than in 2013, a drop of 2.8%,&rdquo; the article said.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> According to the story, Swiss wines did a healthy amount of self-loathing, more so than the loath they exhibited for imported wines.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;Swiss wines suffered ore than foreign ones &ndash; a result blamed on poor recent harvests,&rdquo; Swiss Info reported.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Of all &nbsp;parties involved in the Swiss decline, red wine perhaps suffered the most damage. The normally beloved ruby sipper took a relative nose dive in Switzerland in 2014.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;Consumption of Swiss red wine plummeted by 8.8%,&rdquo; the article said, &ldquo;with the consequence that for the first time more local white wine was drunk than red wine, although as usual more red wine was produced.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Swiss Info said the fall in numbers was anticipated because poor climatic conditions hampered the harvest of the past two years.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;The poor performance of local wines had been expected following the weather-effected harvests of 2013 and 2014,&rdquo; the story said.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Though the numbers for this past year&#39;s total wine consumption was discouraging, Swiss Info reported earlier this year that not all hope is lost &ndash; Swiss wine is being served more than ever during diplomatic events abroad.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;The number of bottles of Swiss wine served at events organised by Swiss representations abroad more than triple in two years, after the foreign ministry amended its procurement procedures to promote Swiss wines in 2013,&rdquo; the article said.</div><br /> <br /> In fact, Switzerland&#39;s foreign office is so emphatic about its country&#39;s wines it floated the bill for shipping the more than 8,000 cases of wine sent out this past year. They also pay up front, Swiss Info noted.&nbsp;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;The number of cartons of Swiss wine sent to embassies abroad increased from 2,962 in 22012 to 8,555 in 2014,&rdquo; the article said. &ldquo;With the new procedures, the foreign ministry now supports the cost of transporting the wine, as well as financing the wine at the time of purchase rather than at the time of consumption.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The spike in popularity could have been a bigger one, Swiss Info reports, had the country&#39;s government approved the original wording of the aforementioned procurement procedures.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;The change in policy evolved from motions presented in the House of Representatives by Christophe Darbellay &hellip; (whose) original proposal stated that diplomatic representations abroad would be &#39;required to serve Swiss wine exclusively,&#39;&rdquo; the story said. &ldquo;This was amended in the Senate to &#39;encourage the serving of Swiss products.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Photo Credit: <a href=""><strong>thisisbossi</strong></a>, <a href=""><strong>Flickr Creative Commons</strong></a></div><br /> </p> Fri, 24 Apr 2015 00:00:00 -0400 article6362 Celebrity Sipper: Real Housewives Star Kicks Off New Wine James Duren <p>Amid the Botox-laden dialogue of Bravo TV&#39;s The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, cuckolded character Brandi Glanville has found the time to launch her own wine label earlier this month.&nbsp;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> News website Inquisitr said the bottle-fond blonde is a natural fit for the wine industry.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;Glanville may have been labeled as an alcoholic by her co-stars who thought she drank too much while filming the show, but Brandi has been pushing forward with her business deals,&rdquo; Inquisitr reported. &ldquo;Maybe it was because she drank so much, but Glanville was offered a business deal to create her own line of wines.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Acknowledging her affinity for a full pour, Glanville said she was an active participant on every level of the winemaking process.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;Everyone knows how much I love my wine, so when I was approached to do a wine of my own, I thought it was a perfect fit,&rdquo; Glanville said. &ldquo;I was involved in every aspect of the process from tastings to creating the perfect combination of flavors as well as the name, the label art to the colors we use on the bottle.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> Glanville went on to say the arduous process was definitely worth its weight in wine.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;This whole process took more than a year, but it was well worth the wait,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;I really think the finished product is perfect.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> In a nod to her and her castmates/catfight mates&#39; inability to purge themselves of their affinity for foul-mouthiness and embarrassing quips, Glanville decided to call the wine &ldquo;Unfiltered Blonde&rdquo;.</div><br /> <br /> Glanville tweeted about the wine in March.<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;Dreaming of summer &amp; a light cool crisp summer chardonnay yet? My own label coming soon,&rdquo; the reality start tweeted, following her announcement with &ldquo;#excited #thinkgrapes #happy.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Glanville&#39;s venture into the vines is just one of several such entrepreneurial journeys by female reality show celebrities, reported the day of the Glanville tweet.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;Glanville will join a list of Real Housewives alcohol moguls that includes Bethenny Frankel&#39;s Skinnygirl cocktails, Ramona Singer&#39;s Ramona (Pinot) Grigio and Lisa Vanderpump&#39;s LVP Sangria,&rdquo; the article said.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> According to an Inquisitr article in March, Glanville&#39;s wines may have some work to do &ndash; Singer&#39;s quaffers rate well.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;It sounds like Ramona Singer&#39;s wines are already light years ahead of Brandi&#39;s,&rdquo; the article said. &ldquo;Her Pinot Grigio wine has already received some amazing reviews, and Ramona has worked on creating red wines as well.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Photo Credit: <a href=";oe=5599B71F"><strong>Brandi Glanville Facebook Page</strong></a></div><br /> </p> Fri, 24 Apr 2015 00:00:00 -0400 article6363 Haters Gonna Hate: The Guardian Explores Natural Wine Controversy James Duren <p>Just because a wine is good enough for Mother Nature doesn&#39;t mean it&#39;s good enough for the wine world.&nbsp;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> This past week The Guardian reporter David Williams dove into the world of natural wine, detailing its history and wrestling with both the love and hate of the au natural tipple.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;The story of natural wine sounds so innocent, so harmless on paper, that it&#39;s hard at first to understand why it still gets so many otherwise clam and reasonable people so very, very cross,&rdquo; Williams wrote.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The movement started, he said, back in the 1980&#39;s when a group of mainly French and Italian winemakers decided to buck conventional wisdom and start creating wines without using any chemicals.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;They believed the wine industry had become too reliant on the battery of dozens of legal additives, from tartaric acid and sulfur dioxide, to powdered tanning and fish bladders (isinglass), permitted in wine production,&rdquo; Williams wrote. &ldquo;They reckoned that these were being used too freely as props to correct deficiencies in the grapes.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The natural wine movement is now a full-fledged, relatively well-known trend and it&#39;s drawing the cheers and the ire of the wine world, Williams said. The biggest complain about the wine, he said, is the taste.</div><br /> <br /> &ldquo;Although the natural wine flavour spectrum is wide, running from wines that are barely distinguishable from the conventionally made to those that fit the stereotype of cloudy, fecal cider, the majority share a certain taste or feeling: there is a wildness to them,&rdquo; he wrote. &nbsp;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Not everyone is a fan of the natural taste, Williams said, pointing to a review of a wine served during a restaurant visit by The Observer&#39;s Jay Rayner, who wrote a rancid review of a natural prosecco based on the waiter who served the wine with the note that the wine &ldquo;&#39;has a lovely farmyard back taste&#39;&rdquo;.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;I love the stench of the farmyard, of decay and the duodenum, in an andouillette or a stinky, bolting cheese,&rdquo; he wrote. &ldquo;In a glass of prosecco? Not so much &hellip; I have yet to taste a nice natural wine. My exposure to them is merely turning me in to a really big fan of traditional preservatives.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Williams said open-mindedness is the key.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;Some people simply cannot tolerate those flavors in any concentration; they see them as faults. I wouldn&#39;t tolerate them either, if they were all a wine offered,&rdquo; he wrote. &ldquo;But while there are many natural wines where I can&#39;t see beyond the bacterial murk, there are many more where you do get something new and precious: a difference in texture and vivacity, and a range of non-fruit flavours that you don&#39;t often find in conventional wines.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Photo Credit: <a href=""><strong>Isabelle Legeron</strong></a>, <a href=""><strong>Flickr Creative Commons</strong></a></div><br /> </p> Fri, 24 Apr 2015 00:00:00 -0400 article6364 Consume That! Report Says Americans Top French As World’s Quaffiest James Duren <p>This past week financial website MarketWatch released the results of an Agrifrance study which unveiled this juicy factoid: Americans drink more wine per person than any other country in the world.&nbsp;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;The United States has overtaken France as the world&rsquo;s foremost wine consumer, with an average annual consumption of 12 litres per person,&rdquo; the article said.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Despite America&rsquo;s leap to the top spot in the world&rsquo;s wine drinking countries, the country and its continent are still far behind Europe&rsquo;s overall consumption numbers, the MarketWatch story said.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Their steady sipping, along with the burgeoning cravings of emerging global wine markets, are good news for the industry.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;Europeans still account for over 50% of world consumption but new consumers have appeared on the scene to ensure the continuing popularity of wine drinking,&rdquo; the article said.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The report indicated financial factors have led to the decline of European drinking, though the continent is still at the top of the list of total consumption.</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;The economic crisis and the rising price of wine have had a strong impact on wine consumption in Europe, prompting European wine growers to adopt a more global strategy of targeting other continents, mainly Asia and North America,&rdquo; the story said.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The Agrifrance also featured export statistics and other figures related to the global expansion of wine.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Just like overall wine consumption, Europe is the leader in wine exports, the story said.</div><br /> <br /> &ldquo;Europe still maintains its positions as global leader, exporting 58% of its total wine production,&rdquo; MarketWatch noted.<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> New World wine producers are making a strong move in the export market.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;The new wine producing countries -- New Zealand, Chile, Australia and South Africa -- have oriented their sales strategy strongly towards world markets and currently export over 50% of their total production,&rdquo; MarketWatch wrote.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The story pointed out that Americans love their wine -- 12 liters per year per person, mind you -- and in particular, their French wine.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;The upmarket segment continues to have the most promising export prospects for French producers,&rdquo; the article said. &ldquo;American consumers are becoming the leading customers for French wines in value terms, now accounting for some 20% of France&rsquo;s market for wines and spirits.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The wines France also fetched the most spots the British Liv-ex Fine Wine Index.&nbsp;<br /><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;Eighty-four of the world&rsquo;s 100 most famous wine brands are French,&rdquo; the story said.<br /><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Photo Credit: <a href=""><strong>mari</strong></a>, <a href=""><strong>Flickr Creative Commons</strong></a></div><br /> </p> Fri, 24 Apr 2015 00:00:00 -0400 article6361 In Praise of Petite Sirah Fred Swan <p><div><br /> Petite Sirah has the stuffing to hold up to extended oak aging. It can also be made in a lighter, fruit-forward, early drinking style. As a result, a survey of current release Petite Sirah from several producers might easily span four or more vintages. The wines selected for you below, all current releases from Northern California, run from 2009 to 2012. Petite Sirah is a good mirror of both region and vintage. In this regard, the selected wines also will help to hone and sharpen your palate.</div><br /> <br /> In a warm year, alcohol levels can be stratospheric and the wines full-bodied, jammy and fruit-forward. Cool growing seasons naturally result in leaner wines but also showcases the variety&rsquo;s spicy and earthy personalities. Regional differences in climate have similar effects. And the terroir of specific vineyards, and particularly old vines, shines through in both fruit character and intriguing side notes, be they floral, mineral or spice.&nbsp;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>2009</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> 2009 was a low-stress year for vines and vintners alike. Lower than average frost-risk and few heat spikes meant initial crop loads were generous. The fruit developed gradually. Timely, late summer rain made up for early deficits and limited the need for irrigation. In the end, winemakers were able to make wine to their preference rather than having style dictated by vintage. Despite this vintage&rsquo;s ability to benefit from extended barrel and bottle aging though, most vintners current releases are now more recent.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>2010</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> The first of two consecutive cool vintages, 2010 also got off to a late start due to spring grains that delayed bud break, flowering and fruit set by about two weeks. While crop loads weren&rsquo;t affected by frost, cloudy skies slowed the ripening process. A sudden week of soaring temperatures late in the season allowed for maturation within a comfortable harvest window. However, some fruit which had been purposefully exposed by leaf-pulling to encourage ripeness frizzed out under the harsh sun. The result was lower yields and, in some cases, raisin-like flavors despite moderate levels of alcohol.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The 2010 wines below demonstrate the complexity and moderate alcohol of this cool year but, fortunately, little to no heat-induced cooking of fruit. They are wines with old world personalities and most will cellar very well.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>2011</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> If 2010 made winegrowers nervous, 2011 had them wondering if they were still in California. A wet winter and wet spring were followed by a wet entry into summer. The uncharacteristic weather hampered fruit set, limiting yields in many vineyards from the start. The growing season remained quite cool for the most part. This further delayed ripening and then October rains hampered harvest. Some unlucky growers wound up with significant rot issues due to fruit that couldn&rsquo;t get dry fast enough.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Nonetheless, a number of producers were fortunate to have vineyard sites that got enough warmth for good ripeness and suffered few ill-effects from the late rains. A great example is the 2011 Robert Biale Vineyards Petite Sirah from Thomann Station Vineyard in St. Helena. St. Helena has Napa Valley&rsquo;s warmest average temperatures during the growing season and was thus ideal for the year. Alcohol in that wine is still only 13.8%, a full two points below what it might be in a typical year. However, the wine teems with complexity and even manages a full-bodied palate.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> One area that thrived almost across the board in 2011 was Lodi. Situated south of Sacramento in the Central Valley, Lodi is significantly cooled by the Sacramento-San Joachin Rivers delta but still achieves ripeness earlier than Napa Valley in most years. 2011&rsquo;s cool nature extended the growing season in Lodi, allowing for phenolic ripeness and complex flavors at relatively low sugar levels.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>2012</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> Growers and winemakers alike drew sighs of relief in 2012. Everything was back to normal. Milestones such a bud break and fruit set occurred right on time. Days were sunny and warm, evenings characteristically cool for northern California&rsquo;s wine-growing regions. Without challenges of attaining ripeness or dodging rain, winemakers were once again able to make the wines they wanted to.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Unsurprisingly, 2012 accounts for a significant proportion of the top-scorers among the Petite Sirah I&rsquo;ve just tasted. Look for a lot of ripe black fruit, often accompanied by floral notes and Petite Sirah&rsquo;s characteristic spice. Alcohol levels can vary substantially depending on vineyard location and producer style, but quality is high regardless.&nbsp;<br /><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em>Click through to page two for wine reviews.&nbsp;</em></div><br /> <div><br /> [PAGEBREAK]</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>Reviews</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Robert Biale Vineyards Petite Sirah Thomann Station Vineyard, St. Helena</strong></a> $51</div><br /> <div><br /> A very Northern Rhone-like take on Petite Sirah with prominent aromas of white pepper, earthy blackberry, black raspberry, savory spices, black olive and rare beef. It&rsquo;s nearly full-bodied on the palate with fine, slightly grippy tannins and framing acidity. The flavors of wild blackberries, earth, five spice powder, white pepper, and garrigue go on at length. Powerful, yet restrained, and just 13.8% alcohol due to the cool vintage. Try it with grilled lamb chops. 94pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Robert Biale Vineyards Petite Sirah Palisades Vineyard, Calistoga</strong></a> $52</div><br /> <div><br /> This is a dense, blackberry-laden fruitcake of a wine with baking spice and gingerbread aromas. The full-bodied, somewhat brooding palate brings dried blackberries, dark earth and dark spices, such as clove and allspice. There are medium-plus tannins, light-grained and chalky. There&rsquo;s a lot here to enjoy, but give the wine a year in the cellar or a juicy ribeye to unlock the magic. 15.5% alcohol. 92pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Hess Collection Petite Sirah Small Block Series, Napa Valley</strong></a> $36</div><br /> <div><br /> Inky purple-black in the glass which can&rsquo;t contain the aromas of plush blackberry, mocha, violets and spice. A balance of acidity and sophisticated tannins provide structure for the lengthy, full-bodied palate. This is just the thing for a rib-eye or BBQ that&rsquo;s light on the sauce, heavy on the smoky bark. 14.2% alcohol. 92+pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Robert Biale Vineyards Petite Sirah &ldquo;Royal Punishers,&rdquo; Napa Valley</strong></a> $40</div><br /> <div><br /> Opaque, glass-staining ruby-purple in color with intense aromas of blackberry, smoke, black cherry, dried sage, vanilla, oak and spice. The palate is full-bodied and juicy with very fine, powdery tannins. Creamy, ripe blackberries are at the core with supporting flavors of spice and dark chocolate. This is a smooth, eminently yummy Petite Sirah that&rsquo;s ready to drink tonight. It&rsquo;s freshness and slight sweetness will welcome a wide range of foods. 15.9% alcohol. 92pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Stags&rsquo; Leap Petite Sirah &ldquo;Ne Cede Malis,&rdquo; Stags Leap District</strong></a> $70</div><br /> <div><br /> 85% Petite Sirah</div><br /> <div><br /> A limited production from Stags&rsquo; Leap Winery&rsquo;s old vine, estate vineyard that&rsquo;s full of savory character. Pronounced aromas of dark flowers, earth, concentrated blackberry, dark spices and tar set the scene. The palate is poised with tannins, acidity and the moderate 13.9% alcohol creating subtle tension behind flavors of blackberry, potting soil and spice. Cellar it for a year plus or drink it with a rare filet mignon. 91+pts.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 David Fulton Petite Sirah, St. Helena</strong></a> $50</div><br /> <div><br /> 100% Petite Sirah</div><br /> <div><br /> Savory and comfortable aromas of toasty oak, brown spice (cumin!), leather jacket and tobacco lead into a full-bodied palate with plenty of light-grained and chalky tannins. Flavors include caramel, leather, earthy spice, smoke and, of course, a mouthful of dense black fruit. Feed this one some juicy beef. 14.9% alcohol. 91pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2010 Fenestra Petite Sirah Ghielmetti Vineyard, Livermore Valley</strong></a> $28</div><br /> <div><br /> Fenestra shows us that what is arguably Livermore&rsquo;s best vineyard for Cabernet Sauvignon also turns out sophisticated Petite Sirah. The nose is a laser beam of blackberry jam shining through a fine mist of spice and the odd flake of dry herb (impossible, but a delicious concept, no?). The nearly full-bodied palate is less jammy yet still fruit-centric with soft, light-grained tannins that gradually diminish for a juicy finish. 14.1% alcohol. 91pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Artezin Petite Sirah Garzini Ranch, Mendocino County</strong></a> $36</div><br /> <div><br /> The nose is a bowl of blackberries strewn with rose petals and dark flowers. Those notes continue on the full-bodied palate where they&rsquo;re met by dark chocolate, black plum and dark spices. The tannins are fine-grained, chalky and firm. 14.7% alcohol. 91pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Girard Petite Sirah, Napa Valley</strong></a> $30</div><br /> <div><br /> Aromas and flavors of sandalwood, spice, earth and a blend of black fruit are central to this balanced wine of of medium-plus body, tannins and acidity. 14.5% alcohol. 90+pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2010 Burgess Petite Sirah Estate, Napa Valley</strong></a> $34</div><br /> <div><br /> Intriguingly savory aromas of earth, blackberry, black cherry, moist cedar, forest floor and dark spice. The nearly full-bodied is held in check by light-grained and chalky tannins. Very nice now, but give it some time in the cellar or drink it with some braised short ribs. 14.4% alcohol. 90+pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2009 Spellbound Petite Sirah Reserve, Napa Valley</strong></a> $45</div><br /> <div><br /> An explosion of tangy black fruit (cherry, blackberry and plum) dusted with Chinese five-spice plus hints of dried tobacco and oak. Full-bodied with light-grained, chalky tannins that could use some time to integrate. 14.7% alcohol. 90+pts&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Priest Ranch Petite Sirah Somerston Estate, Napa Valley</strong></a> $40</div><br /> <div><br /> This is a well-constructed, full-bodied wine that&rsquo;s drinking tight at the moment. Rich flavors of blackberry fruit leather and firm, yet fine, chalky tannins promise more. 15.5% alcohol. 90+pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Artezin Petite Sirah Mendocino County</strong></a> $25</div><br /> <div><br /> Balanced and attractive, this wine features tangy blackberry pie, blueberry, and charred oak flavors. Medum-plus body with matching tannins of fine grain and chalk. 14.8% alcohol. 90pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2010 Stonehedge Petite Sirah Grand Reserve, Napa Valley</strong></a> $45</div><br /> <div><br /> A juicy wine with friendly aromas of red cherry jam, baking spice, carob and toasty oak. Medium-plus body with chalky tannins and acidity to match. Flavors echo the nose. 14.2% alcohol. 89+pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2010 Concannon Petite Sirah Reserve, Livermore Valley</strong></a> $40</div><br /> <div><br /> Concannon, the granddaddy of Petite Sirah producers, represents with this full-bodied wine. Black and white pepper, sweet toasty oak and dried black cherry harmonize. Plenty of light-grained, chalky tannins provide structure but eventually recede for a juicy finish. 15.0% alcohol. 89pts&nbsp;</div><br /> </p> Thu, 23 Apr 2015 00:00:00 -0400 article6349 Sonoma State Tops Texas Tech in Wine Cocktail Showdown James Duren <p>In what sounds like the trifecta at the local track, Lavender Lady edged out Tasteful Blush and Mendoza Margarita to take home the crown in the Sonoma State University/Texas Tech University Wine Mixology Contest.<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Whereas other contestants relied on tried-and-true cocktail recipes, a Sonoma State press release said, Sonoma State&#39;s Laina Carter and Jessica Piel created an original recipe for Lavender Lady.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;Lady Lavender was able to steer clear of &#39;repurposing&#39; standard cocktails and incorporated the use of unique ingredients and a novel flavor profile,&rdquo; said Master of Wine Tim Hanni, who joined four Master Sommeliers on the judging panel.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The cocktail creators&#39; emphasis on herbs impressed Hanni.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;Focusing on the aromatic herb this recipe evokes the traditional, lost art of blending wine and aromatic ingredients that have a long history in wine regions in Europe,&rdquo; he said.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Master Sommelier Ian Cauble lauded Carter and Piel&#39;s combination of components.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;It seemed to me the creator of the drink was mindful of using very carefully chosen ingredients as well as fresh citrus,&rdquo; Cauble said, &ldquo;which is necessary in all cocktails.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Recipes for the winning drinks were posted on the competition&#39;s blog. According to the blog, the Lavender Lady is comprised of six ingredients: 4 oz. sparkling white wine, &frac12; oz. citron vodka, &frac12; oz. lavender tea syrup, one lemon and peel, lemon drop martini sugar and lavender blossoms for garnish.</div><br /> <br /> The instructions?<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;Dip the rim of a chilled martini glass in lemon drop sugar. Add vodka and lavender tea syrup. Add juice form one fresh-squeezed lemon,&rdquo; the blog said. &ldquo;Top with sparkling white wine. Garnish with lemon peel and lavender blossoms. Enjoy!&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The Lavender Lady beat out 32 other cocktails for the top spot. According to the release, students narrowed the initial group down to &ldquo;the six most creative&rdquo;. From there, the expert judges selected the top-three cocktails.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;We are very pleased with the results,&rdquo; Sonoma State Wine Business Professor Dr. Liz Thach said, &ldquo;and the students appeared to have lots of fun with the project.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Part of the purpose of the competition, the press release said, was to explore ways that wine could compete with the beer and spirits markets.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;Wine can sometimes be perceived as a bit too snobby,&rdquo; Sonoma State student Chris Harrison said. &ldquo;By crafting wine cocktails we can appeal to the &#39;come as you are&#39; beer and spirits followers.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Photo Credit: <a href=";h=597"><strong>Wine Cocktails Blog</strong></a></div><br /> </p> Wed, 22 Apr 2015 00:00:00 -0400 article6354 Wine Boss Talks Branding, Restaurant Booze with NBBJ James Duren <p>Earlier this week North Bay Business Journal reporter Jeff Quackenbush talked with Bill Legion, former Hahn Family Wines brand creativity manager and current brand boss at Jamieson Ranch Vineyards.&nbsp;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The wily wine vet answered four questions, covering branding-specific questions about standing out fro the competition, wine labeling and why restaurant wine lists are shrinking.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Legion said standing out in the wine market crowd isn&#39;t any easier or harder than it was 20 years ago. The market, he said, is filled with competitors.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;There is incredibly intense competition,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;If you&#39;re talking about grocery store shelves, retailers have incredibly limited SKUs (stock keeping units, or distinct items for sale), so to take on more they may have to kick someone out.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> When asked about how a wine producer could stand out from the competition, Legion said the key is quality product.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;The first thing is to make a great wine at a given price point,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;What I&#39;ve talked about for a while is many make great wine, but you have to exceed customer expectations.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Legion went on to say a major shift in wine branding has been the necessity to include a story with the wine.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;In the past 20 years, if you came up with a wine, it needs to have a reason to exist,&rdquo; Legion said. &ldquo;There must be different ways to tell a compelling story.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> As for restaurant wine lists, Legion agreed with Quackenbush: they&#39;re shrinking.</div><br /> <br /> &ldquo;We&#39;ve been losing ground to craft beer and cocktails,&rdquo; Legion said. &ldquo;All have cocktails lists now.&rdquo;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The industry veteran told Quackenbush one of the ways to stand out to consumers and those who form restaurant wine lists is through inventive packaging paired with quality wine.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Legion said he designed the rooster label for Rex Goliath&#39;s 47 Pound Rooster, an early titan in what became a rather popular &ldquo;critter label&rdquo; movement.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;With the critter brands, the shelves became cluttered with all kinds of different labels,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Now I&#39;ve gone back to the classics, with a lot of white space on the label.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Legion also pointed out that consumers have made a significant shift in preferences after the 2008 recession. Flashy, party-like labels don&#39;t impress like they used to. Consumers are concerned about bank for the buck.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;There is a fundamental shift in the values of consumers,&rdquo; he said, &ldquo;and this is reflected in their view of the price-quality relationship.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Photo Credit: <a href=""><strong>francois schnell</strong></a>, <a href=""><strong>Flickr Creative Commons</strong></a></div><br /> </p> Wed, 22 Apr 2015 00:00:00 -0400 article6353 Campfire Wines for Spring <p><div><br /> The beginning of Spring marks the beginning of several &ldquo;seasons&rdquo; as we are finally able to again start conducting many more activities outdoors. For me, it means being able to ride my bike on actual pavement, trying hard once again to avoid becoming &ldquo;that parent&rdquo; that yells at the Little League umpire for missing a call, and finding at least a couple weekends to pack up the family to spend a night or two camping.</div><br /> <br /> Now, I am far from a hardcore camper (and if my wife is joining us, we rarely venture more than a few feet from the car), but we do enjoy getting out of the city and into a tent at least a couple of times a year. When we do, we like to keep it fairly straightforward: well-equipped campsites (I like to think we have evolved as a species for a reason&mdash;there is no need to &ldquo;rough it&rdquo;), nothing overly high-tech when it comes to gear, and simple food.<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> There was a time when I prepared more elaborate meals for the campsite, but once my two boys came along I quickly realized that I was spending an incredible amount of time making sophisticated dishes for an audience that expressed little to no interest.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The good side of that equation is that most of the food that we make for dinner is rather easy&mdash;we opt for the more &ldquo;traditional&rdquo; campfire fare: hotdogs, hamburgers, steak, baked beans, and of course, s&rsquo;mores. There is little doubt that your menu will vary considerably and be far more interesting (can I join you?), but that is no reason not to put forth a few wine suggestions for your next trip out communing with nature.&nbsp;<br /><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Grabbing just one wine to pair perfectly with all that is served at the campfire is akin to popping only one bottle for Thanksgiving&mdash;there are so many competing and varied flavors that one wine will rarely do the trick. The main difference? At Thanksgiving, you can always just go down into the cellar and grab a different wine, but when camping, if you bring a half dozen bottles of wine &ldquo;just in case&rdquo; you will either look like a raging alcoholic or give yourself a hernia trying to carry it all to the campsite.<br /><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>The solution?&nbsp;</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Bring along a versatile bottle that will pair well with most of the food (and if you bring along two such bottles, you will tend not to care nearly as much how well the food pairs up).</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Meals around the campfire tend to differ from home-cooked meals in three main ways: they tend to be saltier, sweeter, and certainly smokier than what you might normally make in your own kitchen. That makes choosing both harder (just give it up&mdash;it won&rsquo;t be perfect) and easier (since it won&rsquo;t be perfect, it can be very liberating).</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>Fruity Reds</strong>: <em>A red wine is the natural choice, given the preponderance of meat and the potential lack of ice. Since there are a lot of competing flavors around the campfire, earthy, complex demure wines will be over-powered while big and bold tannic wines will come off as harsh and brooding. Thus you want to stick with red wines that are on the fruitier side.</em></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Franciscan Estate Napa Cabernet Sauvignon</strong></a>: Retail $29. A rich ruby color with an inviting cassis and raspberry nose. Well balanced on the palate with rich fruit and considerable backbone. 91 points.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Cornerstone Cellars Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Stepping Stone (Black Label)</strong></a>: Retail $45. This one was impressive right out of the bottle&ndash;effusive raspberry and cassis and a hint of strawberry jam. On the palate, good fruit and depth, with a lingering finish. 93 Points.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Gary Farrell Bradford Vineyard Zinfandel</strong></a>: Retail $45. A Pinot Noir lovers Zinfandel: with fruit that, while prominent, is by no means over-powering, it is refined and deep with great structure. I could smell and drink this for a very long time. 93 Points.<br /><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>A White and a Ros&eacute;</strong>: <em>When choosing a white for the campfire, you want to reach for a wine with quite a bit of acidity to cut through all those flavors. While a Sauvignon Blanc would be a stellar choice, I like to grab something a little more out of the ordinary. With ros&eacute;, you need to meld the two styles together&mdash;the fruit of a red and the acidity of a white. Here are two wines that would find their way into my cooler.&nbsp;</em></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2013 Anselmi Capitel Croce</strong></a>: Retail $30. 100% Garganega. Floral aromatics added on top of stone fruit. A fuller bodied white, this is one of those white wines that really wants to be a red&ndash;bold with racy acidity, this could handle a wide variety of cuisine. 92 Points.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2013 Ch&acirc;teau Miraval C&ocirc;tes de Provence Ros&eacute;</strong></a>: Retail $20. I know. I know. It is a &ldquo;celebrity wine&rdquo; (and not just any celebrities), and it comes in an odd shaped bottle. But here is the thing: it&rsquo;s really good. White flowers, red berries, plenty of acidity&mdash;this wine has it all. &nbsp;91 Points.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>Sparkling Wines</strong>: <em>For me, this is perhaps the best pairing for the campfire (and one that is likely to convince my wife to come along after all). You have all of the acidity of a white wine, perhaps just a hint of sweetness, and bubbles. Everything is better with bubbles.</em></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>N.V. Laetitia Brut Cuv&eacute;e</strong></a>: Retail $25. 53% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay &amp; 17% Pinot Blanc. The nose of this wine was all freshly baked bread with a side of cantaloupe. Lemon tart on the palate with a lively sparkle and a hint of pear. A fabulous domestic sparkling wine. 90 Points.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>NV J Vineyards &amp; Winery Brut Ros&eacute; Russian River Valley</strong></a>: U.S. Retail $38. 66% Pinot Noir, 33% Chardonnay, 1% Pinot Meunier. While the Cuv&eacute;e 20 by J is a bit more prevalent, this has just a bit &ldquo;extra&rdquo; that makes it worth searching out. Brioche and strawberry in abundance followed by a most impressive finish. 93 Points.</div><br /> </p> Wed, 22 Apr 2015 00:00:00 -0400 article6344 University of Adelaide: Place of Origin Works in Favor of Australian Wines James Duren <p>It&#39;s not just the beer, the crocodile hunters and the Great Barrier Reef that bring smiles to the faces of foreigners.&nbsp;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> This past week the University of Adelaide&#39;s Wine Business department released the results of a worldwide research project which says overseas consumers like the Aussie quaffers. The results were published in Australia&#39;s Food Magazine and in a press release from the university.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;Our international customers and consumers believe that our wine and our winemakers are authentic and exciting,&rdquo; said Dr. Roberta Crouch, lead researcher on the project. &ldquo;This is really valuable when we have conversations and engage with wholesalers, retailers, sommeliers and consumers because they will have confidence in our wines.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> According to the press release from the University of Adelaide, the results are just a snapshot of the early responses to the study. The project is only in the first part of the study, the release said.<br /><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The study is focusing on seven countries: the United States, the United Kingdom, China, Korea, Indonesia, Vietnam and India.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The press release noted that respondents characterized Australian wines as &ldquo;authentic&rdquo;, &ldquo;exciting&rdquo;, &ldquo;sincere&rdquo;, &ldquo;strong&rdquo; and &ldquo;reliable&rdquo;.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Andreas Clark, chief executive of the Australian Grape and Wine Authority, the organization which funded the project, said the early responses are positive signs because the country is making efforts to communicate a certain image about Australia&#39;s wines.&nbsp;</div><br /> <br /> &ldquo;We are delighted to find that international wine consumers are already predisposed to understand our messages about the authenticity and excitement of Australian fine wine,&rdquo; Clark said.&nbsp;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Furthermore, the respondents&#39; perceptions of Australian reinforce the notion that country of origin plays an important role in how people perceive them, Crouch said.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;Country of origin effects are those stereotypical beliefs consumers have about a product or service based on where that product or providers of that service are sourced,&rdquo; Crouch said.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> She also noted that many times consumers fall back on country of origin to make their decisions about which wines to buy. In fact, consumers are willing to fork over a little more cash simply because of the wine&#39;s origin and, in some cases, national allegiance is more important that taste.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;For wine, country of origin has been found across numerous international studies to be consistently relied upon by consumers to inform their perceptions of wine quality and their willingness to pay a premium price &ndash; even overriding the actual taste of the wine,&rdquo; Crouch said.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Photo Credit: <a href=""><strong>Charles Haynes</strong></a>, <a href=""><strong>Flickr Creative Commons</strong></a></div><br /> </p> Wed, 22 Apr 2015 00:00:00 -0400 article6352 Grower Champagne Niche Is Growing James Duren <p>They make what&#39;s known as &ldquo;Les Champagnes de Vignerons&rdquo;, or grower Champagne, and they couldn&#39;t be happier.&nbsp;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> A group of grower Champagne advocates spoke with The China Post reporter Stephen Quinn earlier this month about their niche in the Champagne world.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> According to the story, grower Champagne is made by grape growers who sell most of their grapes to wine estates but keep some for themselves in order to make wines to their liking.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The decision to go Grower gives them freedom they couldn&#39;t have if they were solely dedicated to processing all their grapes.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Take Alain Legret, for example &ndash; the grape grower sells most of his grapes to Champagne heavyweights and uses the income to craft wines according to his personal taste.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;Alain &hellip; says that income is made from his five hectares by selling grapes to the big houses &ndash; leaving him free to make exactly the style of Champagne he wants to with the grapes he retains,&rdquo; the Post story said.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Fellow grape grower Jean-Philippe Moulin does the same.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;(He) declares that they don&#39;t even necessarily keep their &#39;best&#39; grapes but rather the ones they like and want to work with,&rdquo; the story said.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The grower Champagne movement has been bubbling up for a while now, the story said.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;The trend for grape growers to bottle their own wine rather than sell their grapes is not new, though visibility on global markets is a recent phenomenon,&rdquo; the Quinn said.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The grower movement adds a certain element of simplicity to the Champagne market, the story said, because the prominent Champagne houses uses a blend of grapes from the area. This approach not only assures the diverse portfolio of grapes in the event bad weather or disease attacks a certain vineyard, but it also allows each Champagne estate to have their own recipe for bubbly. The word for this, Quinn wrote, is &ldquo;style&rdquo;.&nbsp;</div><br /> <br /> &ldquo;The success &ndash; and challenge &ndash; of the large Champagne houses is the actualization of, and commitment to, maintaining that style,&rdquo; he wrote. &ldquo;Consumers bring a huge set of expectations to a glass of, say, Veuve Clicquot.&rdquo;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> That style, Quinn wrote, can&#39;t be infused into a grower Champagne.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;The word &#39;style&#39; also arises a lot when talking with grower Champagne houses, but what is intriguing is that stylistically the wines are more about difference, one from the other, than about attaining uniformity under an umbrella style. Within a single house, there is not even necessarily a house style.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Quinn spoke with Claudio De Villemor Salgado, a Champagne representative in Hong Kong.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Salgado told Quinn grower Champagne isn&#39;t any better or worse than the big names.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;They are just very different,&rdquo; he said, &ldquo;and also different from one another.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Photo Credit: <a href=""><strong>Andrea Parrish-Geyer</strong></a>, <a href=""><strong>Flickr Creative Commons</strong></a></div><br /> </p> Wed, 22 Apr 2015 00:00:00 -0400 article6355