Snooth - Articles Read the opinions of wine professionals en-us Fri, 20 Oct 2017 03:35:02 -0400 Fri, 20 Oct 2017 03:35:02 -0400 Snooth Wine Lovers Rally Around California Snooth Editorial <p>News of raging fires in our beloved California wine regions is positively heartbreaking. The impact of these fires is felt around the world. We find ourselves searching for updates on the status of our favorite wineries. We pour over photographs of the destruction and think about families who&rsquo;ve lost their homes. Lost their jobs. Lost their lives. It is more important than ever to join together and support the communities whose inherent charms bring so very much joy to millions. California wine country is an American treasure. Its people need our support. How can we help?<br /> There are a number of organizations and funds that will be supporting California wine country during its time of need. Please consider making a gift, no matter the size, to an organization or fund that resonates with you most.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong><a href="">Click here to make a gift to the Napa Valley Disaster Relief Fund.</a></strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong><a href="">Click here to make a gift to the Sonoma County Resilience Fund.</a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href="">Click here to make a gift to the Community Foundation of Mendocino County.&nbsp;</a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href="">Click here to choose a Go Fund Me campaign.</a>&nbsp;</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em>Photo Credit: Bob McClanahan for the Napa Valley Vintners&nbsp;&nbsp; </em></p> Fri, 13 Oct 2017 00:00:00 -0400 article6987 How to Write the Best Ever Wine Tasting Note Snooth Editorial <p>Writing is a cathartic exercise. The same can be said about tasting wine. Amazing things will happen when the two practices are merged. Tasting notes are an opportunity to sharpen your palate and uncover curious flavors. Pineapple tops? Dentist&rsquo;s office chair? A laundry list of chemical compounds commingle in your glass to create unique tasting experiences. When it comes to tasting notes the truth is in the palate of the taster. But like all art, there is some science involved. We asked the web&rsquo;s top wine writers to give us their thoughts on how to write a great tasting note. They also shared some of the most interesting flavors they&rsquo;ve ever found in a wine.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> What&rsquo;s the most unique tasting note you&rsquo;ve ever found? Let us know in the comments.<br /> <em>I was a writer long before I was of legal wine-drinking age, and I learned a lot about my writing style while studying journalism as an undergraduate. I loved interviewing people, posing poignant questions, trying to figure out what made the subject of the interview unique. When it comes to writing tasting notes (and I&rsquo;ve written thousands of them), I take this same approach. I sit back and interview the wine in my glass.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> It all comes down to asking the right questions. Is the color light gold or dark yellow, and what does the viscosity tell me about the wine? This wine smells spicy, but there are thousands of spices &mdash; is this clove, black pepper, anise, fennel? How does the body of the wine or the tannins, if present, balance out with the wines acidity? Fine wine has so many stories to tell, and I try to listen as well as I can when writing a tasting note. When &ldquo;interviewing&rdquo; my first Georgian Saperavi many years ago, I was trying to nail down a unique scent and flavor, and I settled on incense sticks (something I still come across in some Saperavi). I also love the flavor of ocean jetty rocks (yes, I&rsquo;ve tasted them) I sometimes get in great Muscadet (perhaps the world&rsquo;s most oceanic-tasting wine).</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Isaac James Baker</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Reading, Writing &amp; Wine</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em>As a writer, I&#39;ve been moving away from tasting notes and focusing more on the total experience, whether it be a visit to a winery, attending an event, or having a meal paired with wine. I write tasting notes more sparingly because wine tasting is subjective and unique to a singular moment in time and place. Food, ambiance, location, and company influence the act of tasting and drinking wine. When I do incorporate tasting notes, I recall Wine &amp; Spirit Education Trust&#39;s Systematic Approach to Tasting&reg; (SAT), but I write in a way that is easily understandable to both beginners and professionals. I describe the aromas and flavors of wine using descriptors with which most people are familiar in everyday life, while I avoid those that are obscure or make no sense to many. Two of the most interesting flavors I have encountered in wine are meatiness in Pinotage and ​the flavor of olives in cool-climate Syrah. As I write tasting notes, I emphasize that my description is solely my impression of the wine that may or may not be the same for anyone else or the next time I taste. It&#39;s rare to recreate the same tasting experience twice. A tasting note is but ​a brief glimpse into my ever-changing, evolving palate.</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>​Elizabeth Smith</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Traveling Wine Chick​</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em>When I first started making tasting notes on wine, I quickly realized I needed a consistent structure for memorializing my impressions of the wines I tasted. I don&rsquo;t recall where I found it, but to this day I mentally organize my thoughts around the color, aroma, body, taste and finish of a wine. Though the color of a wine may be a tip you of the age and/or condition of the wine, I think it&rsquo;s optional. My primary focus is on describing a wine&rsquo;s aromas, body (including dryness level, the body or &ldquo;weight&rdquo; of the wine, acidity and tannins), taste and finish (the best wines finish last!) For a wine&rsquo;s aromas and flavors I use as many adjectives as possible (e.g. does it smell and taste of fresh or baked cherries or perhaps cherry jam) to flesh out the character of the wine. I prefer straight forward, rather than esoteric wine descriptors because I think that&rsquo;s what the vast majority of wine drinkers relate to. For the body, I think it&rsquo;s important to identify whether the wine is light, medium, of full bodied and to describe its dryness level, acidity and tannins. I like to complete my tasting note by describing the finish of the wine&nbsp; - both how long the taste stays on the palate after the wine is swallowed and whether it tastes spicy, savory, bitter, tart, etc. The key a great tasting note is to find a systematic approach that will enable you to comprehensively capture your impression of the wine on a consistent basis. Find what works for you and practice, practice, practice!&nbsp; Among the more unique and memorable aromas and or flavors I&rsquo;ve captured in my tasting notes have been roasted sunflower seeds, marzipan, and canned peas!</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Martin Redmond</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>ENOFYLZ Wine Blog</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em>Writing a great tasting note is an involved task. As a writer, the goal is to accurately describe what you see, smell, &amp; taste, with any personal insight from your overall experience. I have my own set of rules to follow. First, Be honest! Shakespeare said it best: &ldquo;To thine own self be true.&rdquo; My brand relies on my integrity and honesty, so it has to start there. Second, Be helpful. Those who read your wine reviews want to know: Will I like this wine? When might I serve it? So it&rsquo;s incredibly important to try and show which wine drinkers will like a wine, with examples of both the wine&rsquo;s profile and possible food pairings. Third, Know your audience and speak their language. The general public does not care for WSET nomenclature, and I have learned the hard way to turn it down a notch. Use terms that are more comfortable. The oenophiles will adore reading &ldquo;medium acidity, notes of petroleum and a hint of cat urine&rdquo;, but those phrases will (and have) freaked out come of my dedicated readers, and they WILL let you know it!&nbsp; Fourth, let your passion flow. If you love something about a wine, share it! That will convince your audience to step out of their comfort zone and try something new.</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em>&ldquo;Where the heck did you learn to taste that?&rdquo; I&rsquo;ve been asked about some of the most unusual flavor descriptors: barnyard (you can&rsquo;t miss it when it&rsquo;s there), eucalyptus, lychee, burnt sugar (from an 1853 madeira), and sauvignon blanc&rsquo;s worst possible side effect, the dreaded aroma of cat urine. But more than any of these, I get the strangest looks and questions from group tasting when I use geologic and mineral identifiers, such as limestone, clay, slate, granite, sand, flint, &amp; shale. Most of these I can thank my high school and college geology classes for teaching me, and others I learned over time by tasting terroir, as farmers and winemakers do. Growing up in Atlanta, Ga, I learned the taste of several different types of clay just the same way one learns the taste of beach sand- just by playing in it.</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Jim van Bergen</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>JVB UNCORKED</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em>My tasting note varies depending on the wine, or series of wines, that I&rsquo;m talking about&hellip; But if you want to start somewhere, then I would recommend Michael Schuster&rsquo;s Essential Winetasting as a great place to start and constantly refer to as you progress through the years. It&rsquo;s good to get the color, aroma, flavor, structure as well as BLIC (quality assessed by balance, length, intensity, complexity, character, concentration), but as you get those points down you want to form you own style of tasting note. Honestly, I change mine up depending on what the wine inspires in me&hellip; sometimes I write very simple, structured notes&hellip; sometimes they are silly&hellip; sometimes romantic&hellip; sometimes I throw in a reference of how it reminds me of a character in a movie. I don&rsquo;t think I can name the most unique flavors I have ever found in a glass as I taste way too much wine on a weekly basis to just pick the top two or three. So let me tell you about a couple I had recently: Mistinguett Cava Brut Ros&eacute;, made from 100% Trepat, had a distinct note of Rau Ram (Vietnamese coriander) that has a spicy yet lemon blossom note. The second, 2016 Herencia Alt&eacute;s &ldquo;Experimental&rdquo; skin contact, almost orange wine, White Garnacha (Granatxa Blanca) that I tasted in the supposed birth place of the mutation of White Garnacha &ndash; Terra Alta, Catalonia, Spain - it had a unique flavor of sea urchin dusted with cinnamon, which reminded me of a sea urchin dessert I tasted once&hellip; although it may sound odd, it was actually the best dessert I have ever had in my life. Hopefully we will see this new &ldquo;Experimental&rdquo; wine hit the market because it is now on the top of my list for skin contact whites.</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Cathrine Todd</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Dame Wine</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em>You catch a scent in the air and it reminds you of someone, something, and you&#39;re transported back to another place and time: Old Spice is the hug from your grandfather; Carnations, fir and cinnamon from your first Winter Formal. The most powerful aromas and flavors are not those that demand attention on their own, but that evoke pictures, sounds, feelings, memories. Anyone can fill out a basic form: Color, Clarity, Fruit, Acidity, Tannins and Finish. Is there a presence of flaws? But those are the tasting notes one quickly forgets -- so I prefer to give the reader something more. Something they can carry with them from one bottle to the next, so they can recognize the grape in a different wine. My first Right Bank Bordeaux reminded me of red velvet rope. Not of the 50 Shades or Janet Jackson variety, but the timeless burgundy velvet stanchion of a grand theater. That is how I pinpoint a Merlot. In a Picpoul de Pinet, it is sunshine and seaside - sur la plage with sounds of gulls, the kiss of the breeze, the cold, crisp splash of the waves along the sand, the sun on my face. Is this wine memorable? Only if its aromas and flavors can transport me to a different time and place.</em><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 /> <em>For tasting notes, I take a no-nonsense approach. I find many people are off-put by too flowery language. I stay true to WSET standard descriptions of fruit, non-fruit, acid, tannins and finish. Since my focus is food pairing, I&#39;m always careful to include how the wine was with the dish I prepared and some notes on why if it was particularly good or not so successful.</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Jeff Burrows</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Food Wine Click</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em>Writing good tasting note is more of an art than science. It is easy to get carried away with the technical terms, which make a lot of sense to the professionals (ponder at &quot;rim variation&quot; or &quot;maderized&quot;) - but this would not help general wine consumers to guess whether they will like the wine or not. My personal approach is to go over color, smell and the taste of wine, and come up with some sort of conclusion whether I like the wine or not. It is important to use the words many people can refer to - of course it doesn&#39;t mean to subside to the &quot;sweet&quot; and &quot;sour&quot;, but it is better to avoid the words which refer to the &quot;things&quot; majority of the people never experienced. For instance, how many people can easily imagine the taste of Lingonberry, Jostaberry or Noni fruit? Or can you describe how bramble (Wikipedia: &quot;In British English, a &quot;bramble&quot; is any rough (usually wild) tangled prickly shrub&quot;) tastes like? So the key to writing a good tasting note is ... keep it simple!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> As far as most unusual flavors, I once used the descriptor &quot;socks&quot; for one of the red wines. Another very unusual one would be a &quot;wet dog&quot;.</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Anatoli Levine</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Talk-a-Vino</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em>Writing a great tasting note about a wine I am reviewing takes a lot more concentration than simply enjoying that glass of wine. What I see, smell and taste in a wine floods my senses. I have to really pay attention to tease out each part of what I experience. Evaluating each wine in the same way every time is essential. It is a skill that takes practice, and one I learned thanks to weekly wine tastings at a local wine shop. That orderly method of evaluating wine was reinforced as I studied for the Society of Wine Educators&rsquo; Certified Specialist of Wine examination. I begin each tasting note with the color (light yellow to ruby for example) and appearance (clear, translucent, dense) of the wine in the glass. Next I describe what I smell, first before swirling the wine in my glass and then after. I try to keep the descriptors as straight-forward as possible. I want them to be meaningful to the reader. Then I move on to the flavors, with the same attention to detail. Along with flavors I describe the weight of the wine in my mouth, the amount of acidity and the amount and type of tannins if present. Finally I describe the length and character of the finish of the wine. Is it short, medium or long? Does the wine finish with flavor or tannins or a combination of both? The flavors and aromas that are often the most interesting in wine are secondary flavors that develop as a result of winemaking decisions and aging in the bottle. I&rsquo;m thinking of the toasty aromas and flavors that develop as a result of aging on the lees, or spice and cedar notes from oak aging and the leather and earthy flavors that develop in red Bordeaux wines with bottle aging. The most unique aroma I remember sensing in a wine is cumin &mdash; in a beautiful bottle of 2012 Storm &quot;Moya&quot; Pinot Noir from South Africa&rsquo;s Upper Hemel-en-Aarde Valley. Wine memories, they are the best!</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Nancy Brazil</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Pull That Cork</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em>I taste a lot of wine. In the beginning I was intimidated to write a tasting note for fear I would taste something wrong. For the most part I believe people taste what they taste. However, upon embarking on the WSET Level 2 certification I realized there are correct and incorrect wine assessments. Sometimes the &ldquo;correct&rdquo; read on the wine is a nuance. For example, stating a wine has medium- acidity when it actually has high acidity would be considered incorrect. When it comes to naming aromas and flavors in a wine the sky is the limit, almost. It would be incorrect to say a Chardonnay tastes like plums as much as it would be to say a Pinot Noir smells like gardenias. My biggest tasting note pet peeve is when the writer chooses poetry to explain the wine. A poetic tasting note is equivalent to poor driving directions. A tasting note is not the time to try to impress with descriptions that require a thesaurus. I now utilize the WSET Level 3 Systematic Approach to Tasting in order to provide clear insight to the wine consumer what I am experiencing with the wine. I have tasted a few unique flavors but once I taste them I can identify them with some regularity. A few of my favorites are lychee, dreamsicle and probably the most unusual is mercurochrome (a topical antiseptic for minor cuts), in a tasting note I would write it as medicinal.</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Michelle Williams</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Rockin Red Blog</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em>One of the most distinctive and unique flavors in wine that I have fallen in love with is salinity. I now crave it, which is amazing to me since I am a mountain girl, not a beach fan. It astounds me how the environment can instill itself into the fruit and become such a dominant feature of the wine. Describing aromas and flavors in wine is a difficult task. Just because I smell a specific aroma and taste a particular flavor does not mean that another person will respond to the wine the same way. That is one of the attributes of wine that I love. It is a personal experience. Some flavors are more common and thereby easier to describe in my notes. Others are more unique and difficult to portray. When it comes to tasting notes, I am tenacious on two intertwined beliefs. Everyone&rsquo;s palate is unique and you should drink what you like, not what someone else tells you to drink. I believe, these opinions make my approach to tasting notes a little different. With each new wine poured into my glass, my objective is always the same. I strive to be able to connect with the wine and provide descriptors so that in the future, I, or anyone reading my notes, can create a mental image and envision what it is like to sip and savor that particular wine, not be told whether it is a good wine or not. My goal is to remain consistent with each tasting by following the same format every time I taste. Through the years, admittedly, I have tweaked and revised that format, but as of recently I have settled on a modified WSET Level III tasting sheet. After being introduced to this format at the last Wine Blogger&rsquo;s Conference in Lodi, California, I concluded the design to not only be simple to follow, but readily accepted by many.&nbsp; A complete picture is created by guiding the reviewer through the three main attributes of sight, smell and taste. This allows me, in my opinion, to provide a complete picture of the wine tasting experience.</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Lori Budd</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Dracaena Wines</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> </p> Fri, 06 Oct 2017 00:00:00 -0400 article6985 The Real Scoop on Greek Wines Michelle Williams <p>In many ways Greece is the ancient epicenter to modern society. Governmental structures, intellectual gatherings, food and wine celebrations, all stem from Greece. As much a part of historic Greek culture as gods and goddesses is Greek wine. Dating back to approximately the third century BC, evidence suggests wine was an integral part of Greek society.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Today there are over 300 indigenous varieties discovered in Greece. Though the names are unfamiliar and at times a challenge to pronounce do not fear, Greek wines are approachable, pair beautifully with food, and often a good value. Because I am a Greek wine novice, I have solicited the expertise of Evan Turner. Evan is a Sommelier, Beverage Director at Helen Greek Food and Wine Restaurant and Helen Heights Restaurant in Houston, and self-proclaimed &ldquo;Greek food and wine crusader.&rdquo; Not only does Evan know Greek wine inside and out, his passion is infectious.<br /> Here are five Greek grapes you should know. Evan&rsquo;s insight is featured in italics.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Malagousia:</strong> On the brink of extinction, this white grape was &ldquo;rediscovered&rdquo; in the 1970&rsquo;s. Today it is grown throughout Greece and enjoyed as one of the country&rsquo;s most beloved grapes. It is a versatile grape that is crafted using wood and stainless steel, and makes a delicious sweet wine as well. It is vibrant and complex and recognized globally as a first class Greek wine.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em>&ldquo;Malagousia will be the next great white grape to come from Greece. Originally from Northern Greece and brought back from near extinction by genius winemaker Evangelos Gerovassiliou, Malagousia typifies how unique indigenous Greek grapes are. With gorgeous aromatics of tropical and stone fruit laced with a riot of flowers pouring from the glass followed with flavors of pineapple, citrus and peaches with a mineral driven and clean finish. If you love wines that are fuller and richer but want to avoid the oakiness of so many of them, Malagousia is the way to go.&rdquo;</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Ktima Gerovassiliou Single Vineyard Malagousia, Epanomi, Greece</strong></a> ($25): 100% Malagousia; pale lemon; medium+ aromas of ripe yellow fruits such as peaches, pineapple, mango, and lemon, jasmine, lime zest, and white pepper spice; palate is crisp and refreshing with mouth-watering tart fruit, pronounced acidity, and a long tart, juicy fruit finish; a great wine to enjoy with a wide variety of foods or just to sip<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Moschofilero:</strong> This highly aromatic dry pink-skinned grape comes from the high plateaus of Mantinia in north-central Peloponnese but today is widely planted throughout the country. It is popular in Greece for its floral aroma, fresh fruit notes, and lively acidity. It is available in still, sparkling, and as a dessert wine.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em>&ldquo;Moschofilero is like a brilliant con artist, they take you for everything you have but do it with such style you still adore them in the end. Largely grown in the Peloponnesos, particularly in its ancestral home of Mantinia, Moschofilero tricks you in the most sexy and wonderful way. On the nose this wine may remind the drinker of Gewurztraminer and even get you to think it is an off-dry wine. On the nose there is an explosion of white flowers like gardenia and lily mingled with cinnamon, clove and other sweet baking spices. Then on the palate comes the switch: Racy and clean with lively lemon, tangerine and lime flavors with a bright dry finish that makes it a fantastic summer white. Positive to make one smile with every sip.&rdquo;</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>NV Ktima Tselepos Amalia Brut, Peloponnese, Greece</strong></a> ($28): 100% Moschofilero; pale gold, medium aromas of fresh rose petals, citrus, ripe green apple, minerality, honey, and toast; light yet persistent bubbles, lively on the palate, medium+ acidity with loads of tart fruit, long refreshing finish; a crowd pleaser, perfect as an aperitif with charcuterie<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Savatiano: </strong>This white wine grape has a checkered past. It is indigenous to the Attica region but today is widely planted across Greece. For many decades it was one of Greece&rsquo;s dominant white varieties; however, it fell out of favor in lieu of more aromatic varieties. Today it is back in favor and, thanks to modern winemaking techniques, stealing the show.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em>&ldquo;Oh Savatiano, you poor thing. Long used to make the maligned (and misunderstood) retsina, finally Savatiano is getting its shot, and in the words of &lsquo;Hamilton&rsquo; it is not going to waste it. If you are fan of crisp, clean Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley in France, I have your wine right here. Savatiano is all about mineral flavors and citrus. Imagine eating a citrus salad by a rushing mountain stream, the flavors of wet rock and lemons, limes and oranges fill your mouth while a beautiful hint of pine forest wafts by. Savatiano ages beautifully, may be one of the best wines to pair with seafood of all time and will make you look more hip drinking it than a Williamsburg barista.&rdquo;</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2013 Domaine Papagiannakos Vareli Markopoulo Savatiano, Attica, Greece</strong></a> ($17): 100% Savatiano; medium- lemon with straw hues; medium+ aromas of stone fruit, citrus zest, lemon curd, jasmine, subtle spice notes, and trailing vanilla; rich and elegant on the palate, a silky medium+ body wine with depth and texture, medium+ acidity hits mid and back palate to finish a luxurious sip with a long tart pucker; 24 hour skin contact maceration along with 10 day stainless steel followed by 12 days in new French oak, add a depth to this wine that is very pleasing.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Agiorgitiko: </strong>This noble red grape grown in Nemea region in Peloponnese is shrouded in mystery. Legend has it this rich complex wine tastes so dark because the vines were stained with the blood of the lion killed by Hercules. It is the most widely planted red grape in Greece. It is bold with complex aromas and flavors, medium tannins and high acidity.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em>&ldquo;Wines made from Agiorgitiko are what you give your friend who thinks Bordeaux is the end all and be all of wines. In many cases Agiorgitiko is blended with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot to make outstanding red blends to rival the world&rsquo;s best. Grown on mountainside vineyards that are in many cases over 3000 feet in elevation throughout the ancient lands of the Peloponnesos, Agiorgitiko is all about wild black fruit like cherries, blackberries and currants. It has a glorious dustiness about it, like walking down a dry Texas farm road and because Greek winemakers do not overly oak their reds, you do not feel like you are drinking vanilla cedar tea with every sip. Cooking lamb in any possible manner? Here is your wine.&rdquo;</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2014 Tselepos &lsquo;Driopi&rsquo; Classic, Nemea, Greece</strong></a> ($19): 100% Agiorgitiko; medium+ ruby; pronounced aromas of dried and baked cherries, blackberries, plums, pomegranate, dried violets, blackcurrant leaf, lavender, dill, sweet baking spice, juniper, fresh sweet tobacco, vanilla; layers of aromas follow through on the palate, ripe and juicy with balanced earthiness; medium+ body, medium tannins with high acidity, playful yet delivers with intensity, long, juicy fruit finish.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Xinomavro: </strong>This red grape&rsquo;s name comes from two words meaning &ldquo;sour&rdquo; and &ldquo;black.&rdquo; Its finicky nature for proper growing conditions is rivaled by Pinot Noir. This red wine is often light in color with an array of characteristics ranging from floral, olive, tomatoes, and smoke. It has high acidity and tannins that benefit from oak aging.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em>Xinomavro is my favorite red grape from Greece. Period. Anyone who disagrees with me may step outside to discuss it further. Ok, ok, I have more to say about it. Xinomavro literally means &quot;acid-black&quot; and these wines age with grace and style, pair brilliantly with more food than you can imagine and have a diversity in style and flavor that is unmatched by nearly every red grape you can think of. Xinomavro gets made into rich, brooding dark fruit packed wines or crafted into wines that will fool you into thinking you are drinking stunning Barbaresco with notes of rose and violet petal mixed with dried cherry and leather. It is even made into some of the best dry sparkling ros&eacute; outside of Champagne. I beg you to not walk but run to your wine shop and get a bottle of Xinomavro.&rdquo;</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2013 Domaine Katsaros Valos, Krania, Greece</strong></a> ($25): 100% Xinomavro grown on the slopes of Mt. Olympus; pale ruby; medium aromas of blackberry, cranberry, pomegranate, black raspberries, dried roses, medicinal notes, dried Greek seasoning, baking spice, green vegetal notes, forest floor, leather, trailing vanilla; medium body yet firm in style, pronounced gripping tannins and high acidity, elegant yet rustic, layers of flavors hit front, mid, and rear palate perfectly, long tart, mouth-puckering finish; when young decant, or consume with food, will age well with proper cellaring.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> In a winemaking region as old as Greece there are also many unknown varieties. These are unidentified grapes that exist in a small area or vineyards. The following is an example of a wine crafted from an unknown local varietal cultivated by the winemaker.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em>&ldquo;Greece has over 300 indigenous grape varieties, many being discovered or rediscovered daily. Take &quot;Biblinos Oenos&quot; from the brilliant winery Biblia Chora in northeast Greece close to the seaside city of Kavala. Named after a wine traded by the Greeks and Phoenicians and considered the greatest wine of its time, there is a chance that the grape used to make this wine at Biblia Chora is one and the same. When tested, the rediscovered variety was shown to be ancient, had no close Vitis Vinifera relatives and is only from this tiny corner of the world. The wine reminds one of outstanding Chateauneuf-du-Pape, but it is the fact you are drinking history with every sip that makes this wine and honestly all Greek wines truly epic.&rdquo;</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Ktima Biblia Chora Biblinos Oenos, Pangeon, Greece</strong></a> ($35): This wine was crafted of a 100% un-named local varietal, a true ancient grape field blend; deep ruby; medium- aromas of fresh red and black fruit, black pepper, dusty earth, minerality, and a faint trail of pleasing charred oak; a well-balanced wine with medium acidity, tannins, body, and finish; elegant yet rustically earthy and approachable at the same time.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Although the grapes are unfamiliar, these Greek wines are highly approachable and deliver a tasting experience that feels comfortable. Furthermore, they come with agreeable price tags, allowing room for experimentation and discovery without a hit to the wallet. But don&rsquo;t take my word for it. As the expert, Evan has the final word on why you should get to know Greek wines.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em>&ldquo;Let us be honest, Greek wines are difficult to find and the names of the grapes positively brutal to pronounce. (If I hear one more &quot;It&#39;s all Greek to me&rdquo; joke....) However Greek wines will positively floor you when you first try them. They are absolutely incredible wines to pair with food. Greeks still hold dear the time honored tradition that wine and food go hand in hand and their wine making style reflects that. Greek wines typically are lower in alcohol than other wines around the world, mainly because they do not add sugar as many winemakers do in an effort to make bigger and bigger wines. In the case of whites, Greek wines have a bit more acidity and in the case of reds, more tannins. This makes them great with a wide range of dishes, Greek and non-Greek alike. Finally, Greek wines see far less oak on average and that further helps them be so affable to food. Be an intrepid wine drinker and seek out Greek wines, regardless of the season, occasion or the food you are having they will go perfectly. Plus, how often will you get a chance to drink wines that Aristotle and Homer (not Simpson) wrote about and drank themselves? Yiamas!&rdquo;</em></p> Fri, 29 Sep 2017 00:00:00 -0400 article6983 Wines of Substance and Longevity Gabe Sasso <p>If you have any familiarity with Italian wines it&rsquo;s likely that the name Bertani is well known to you. Located around Verona, the Valpolicella region is most famous for Amarone and other wines produced using variations of the passito method. Bertani stands as the best known and most traditional producer of this style of wines. I spent some time in and around Verona earlier this year and came away with a keen appreciation for and understanding of what they do. Bertani utilizes sustainable practices in their vineyards and throughout their operation<br /><br /> <br /><br /> With great wine, everything begins in the vineyard and Bertani fully embraces this philosophy. From selecting the appropriate variety for a block of land to vine training and appropriate pruning methodology every decision is made with the intent of growing the best grapes. Picking choices are incredibly important in any wine and Amarone is no different. Many Amarone producers have shifted to picking grapes that are overripe which leads to wines with higher alcohol, lower acid and lack of proportion. Bertani has remained steadfast in their devotion to crafting wines of balance and finesse, no small feat in a category that naturally has heft, higher alcohol than most dry wines and intrinsic power.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> In tasting through the two most recent releases of Bertani Amarone as well as vintages dating back as far as 50 years it&rsquo;s apparent that their house style has maintained consistent in overall intent. Quality, as always, varies based on vintage. But with the selections of Amarone I sampled from Bertani that variation falls within an amazingly narrow window of excellence. Taken as a piece the Bertani Amarones are wines of proportion, focus, depth, gravitas and longevity. This notion was obvious when sampling their wines, but it become even more abundantly clear when the Bertani wines were presented blind alongside a selection of wines by their peers. In each flight the remarkable grace, precision and balance of the Bertani wines shone through with stunning clarity.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Bertani produces a number of other wines besides Amarone. Valpolicella and Soave are but two examples. These offerings are intended for everyday drinking and largely don&rsquo;t require aging to reach their full potential. In short the Bertani name on a wine label is an implicit sign that quality is contained therein. <br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Bertani 2008 Amarone della Valpolicella Classico doc</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> After spending seven plus years in large Slavonian oak barrels, the 2008 vintage was bottled in April of 2016. This is their brand new vintage and it&rsquo;s just a baby. However it shows tremendous promise for longevity. Cherry, black Raspberry and plum aromas dominate the nose. Dried dark fruits, tiny bits of balsamic vinegar and a core of spices mark the luxurious palate. Dried plum, kirsch liqueur and hints of dark chocolate are in evidence on the solid finish. It&rsquo;s tasty now but it&rsquo;ll start coming hitting a really interesting spot in another decade.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Bertani 2007 Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Doc</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> After spending seven years in large Slavonian oak barrels, the 2007 vintage was bottled in September of 2014.Red and black cherries, cinnamon and clove are all prominent aromatics here. The palate is driven by a solid and somewhat intense core of cherry fruit that is underscored by intermingling mineral notes. Bits of sweet, dark chocolate and hints of earth are evident on persistent finish. Firm acid keeps things refreshing and balanced. An extraordinarily long life ahead is in store for the 2007 Bertani Amarone.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Bertani 1981 Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Superiore</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> The 1981 was bottled in 1991 after a decade in barrel. This 36 year old wine is highlighted by an incredible aromatic profile. An intense bouquet of dried black fruits is buttressed by bits of spice and secondary characteristics.&nbsp; It feels light in the mouth but it&rsquo;s deceptively so. There is depth, elegance and complexity to spare here with dried plums, blackberry, hints of vanilla and oodles of spice. Continued dried fruit, tobacco and toasted hazelnut elements are in play on the long finish. This stunning wine has decades of useful life ahead of it.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Bertani 1975 Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Superiore doc</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> The 1975 vintage was bottle in December of 1986 after 11 years in 100HL Slavonian oak. The incredibly aromatic wine shows off hints of peach and red plum. Tobacco, cigar box, and leather take the lead here with dried plum and cherry notes fading into the background. Hints of toasted nuts leas the finish and are joined by a horn-o-plenty of spices that come together to bring it home. Firm acid lends to the mouthwatering nature here. While this offering is the least impressive of the quintet, at least on the day I tasted it, it&rsquo;s a fascinating and delicious wine nonetheless.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Bertani 1967 Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Superiore doc</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> In October of 1985 after spending 17 years in 100HL Slavonian oak the 1967 was bottled. At 50 years old the &rsquo;67 Bertani still shows a vibrant red hue when poured with only tiny hints of brown peeking at the edges. Mushroom, citrus rind and cigar box dominate the aromatics. Bits of wood musk, subtle red fruit and finely ground earth dominate the palate. The finish here is impossibly long, layered and elegant. There isn&rsquo;t a thing here not to love; it&rsquo;s perfection in a bottle. To celebrate the 50th anniversary Bertani has released 6,000 bottles of this masterpiece, grab one if you can.</p> Fri, 22 Sep 2017 00:00:00 -0400 article6981 A Stroll through Burgundy John Downes <p>You know the scene. He walks into the wine bar, orders a glass of Macon Villages and spends the next half hour telling you he&#39;s an expert on Burgundy. Well, don&#39;t believe him, Burgundy&#39;s hallowed vineyards hold mysteries far beyond mere mortal&#39;s understanding. That said, the code to this magical region is there to be cracked! There&#39;s no better way to discover &#39;le difference&#39; than to walk through the Cote de Beaune, the Cote de Nuits&#39; partner in the fabled Cote D&#39;Or, (the Golden Slopes) past some of the most evocative village names in the world.&nbsp; Join me on a stroll from Aloxe-Corton to Chorey-les-Beaune. Incredibly, we&rsquo;ll be walking through some of the world&#39;s most expensive real estate!<br /> Burgundy&rsquo;s myriad villages, vineyards, microclimates, soils, grand crus, premier crus, and winemakers not only send heads spinning, they send scepticism racing. I remember my early visits when I pooh-poohed differences in vineyard plots only metres apart, &#39;&#39;don&#39;t tell me that one side of the wall is Grand Cru and the other side has a common or garden appellation. Pull the other one&#39;&#39;. I was wrong.&nbsp; Time and an open mind have since taken me on a fascinating voyage of discovery.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Not all things Burgundian are complicated. Talking grapes, in the Cotes de Beaune it&#39;s simply Chardonnay for the whites and Pinot Noir for the reds but, when it comes to the appellations, (the names and pecking order of the wines), things aren&#39;t so straightforward. Mind you, it&#39;s certainly not as complicated as many would have us believe.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Travelling south along the N74 with the &#39;golden slopes&#39; sweeping away gently to the right, the quiet village of Aloxe Corton with its colourfully tiled roofs, gracious chateau, and elegantly spired church takes the eye. It heralds the Cote de Beaune.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The famous saddle-shaped hill of Corton rises above the village and nowhere in Burgundy is the key to the code or the concept of &#39;terroir&#39; better demonstrated.&nbsp; Just one taste of the wines from different plots dotted around the hill&#39;s slopes will convince the grumpiest sceptic that it&#39;s all about location, location, location.&nbsp; Around the village, the best climats of Aloxe soak up the sun throughout long lazy ripening days, whilst just around the corner in Pernand-Vergelesses, poorer expositions on the same hill give lighter wines that are only a shadow of their famous neighbour.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Above the village and below a top hat of trees the Corton hill slopes steeply, clearly exposing her beneficial limestone outcrops, perfect for Chardonnay to produce Aloxe&#39;s famous wine, the powerfully elegant Grand Cru Corton-Charlemagne. More clay outcrops in the middle slopes provide perfect terrain for the flirtatious Pinot Noir, the result being the wonderfully rich Corton, incredibly the only red Grand Cru in the Cote de Beaune. Where and why Chardonnay vines end and Pinot begins on the magical slope is a never-ending talking point but with the Aloxe Grand Cru vineyards having no less than 200 owners, some of whom own just a few vines, knowing the best plots and their winemakers, not to mention your bank manager, is far more critical when it comes to buying a bottle.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Barely three kilometres to the west of Aloxe Corton and still lying on its famous hill, Pernand-Vergelesses, lives in the shadow of Aloxe Corton. But this time quite literally! Here, the sun&#39;s rays are blocked by the Corton hill itself sentencing many of the vines to a shady existence for much of the day. There is a brighter side, however, for the best red Premier Crus lie on the flatter, sunnier vineyards further down the slope and these, together with the best limestone rich, sun-blessed Chardonnay plots, can make &#39;P.V.&#39; a happy hunting ground for the determined wine sleuth. Many of the wines are sold under the Cotes de Beaune Villages label which is a pity for many deserve to stand on their own.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Fuelling the Burgundy enigma, a clutch of favourable south-east facing vineyard plots and their wines, belie their origin, including the &#39;white&#39; Grand Cru En Charlemagne parcel which is entitled to use the &#39;Aloxe name&#39; of Corton Charlemagne and further along, a small parcel of Pinot Noir whose &#39;terroir&#39; allows it to take on the prestigious Corton label.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Just around the corner from Aloxe Corton and again lying on the same saddled hill, the vineyards of Ladoix-Serrigny face east but, as with &#39;P.V.&#39;, sadly do not share the same quality exposure. With the soils also changing as you move around the slope, the wines lack the intensity and finesse of Aloxe Corton.&nbsp; But it&#39;s not all bad news, some climats are good enough to be entitled with Aloxe&#39;s priceless Corton and Corton-Charlemagne appellations. Many of Ladoix&#39;s wines are sold under the Cotes de Beaune Villages label which makes Ladoix-Serrigny one of the lesser known communes but thankfully these under rated wines are becoming more visible on our shelves; the name may be difficult to pronounce but they give good pleasure for a good price.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> When the great winemaker in the sky dealt &lsquo;terroir&rsquo;, Chorey-les-Beaune was a little unfortunate. The trouble is, it&#39;s on the wrong side of the road and being off the slope, much of Chorey&#39;s vineyards stand on flatter, damper clay soils. Consequently, the village is often a forgotten enclave. With the nearby village road sign also pointing to Aloxe Corton, it again demonstrates how things can change within a stone&#39;s throw.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> It&#39;s not all doom and gloom though down Chorey way as some of the vineyards are on sandier soils where better wines evolve. On a personal note I was lifted by a brace of Chorey reds at a London tasting earlier this year and a white Chorey-les-Beaune at a Burgundy dinner last week was for me, the best wine of the night amongst some impressive labels.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Hope you enjoyed our stroll. Now back to the hotel for a glass of&hellip;..<br /><br /> </p> Fri, 22 Sep 2017 00:00:00 -0400 article6980 It’s not all about Zinfandel. Snooth Editorial <p>Zinfandel lovers unite in Sonoma&rsquo;s Dry Creek Valley. Eno-tourists are anxious to visit the area known to some as the Zinfandel grape&rsquo;s spiritual home. But please, don&rsquo;t come for the Zinfandel alone.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Dry Creek Valley&rsquo;s small, family owned wineries are a true treat for the eno-tourist looking for unparalleled tasting room experiences. The area is just two miles wide and sixteen miles long, boasting a patchwork of metamorphic, igneous, and sedimentary rock soils. The roads undulate through densely forested hills among the gorgeous, oftentimes very old vines. The history of winegrowing in the valley dates back to the late 1800s.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Dry Creek Valley is a can&rsquo;t-miss trip on your next spin through Sonoma, even for those who don&rsquo;t adore Zinfandel. A recent Snooth tasting reveals just how many grapes are possible in this special slice of California. Here are some favorites:&nbsp;<br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Quivira Vineyards Fig Tree Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc Dry Creek Valley 2014</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Herbal lemon drop and butter cookie aromas with a tart citrus note and some tropical fruits. Focused and citrusy on the palate with bright flavors of sour straw candy, light melon and a hint of mango. Pleasant and crisp with good fruit expression and a zesty spice throughout.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Pedroncelli Dry Rose of Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley 2015</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Smoky, tarry aromas with dark musk and tart mixed berry on the nose. This is a bit green on entry but overdelivers on rich spice and zesty earth, a fruit blend of cranberry, cherry and raspberry and a bold baking spice finish.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Sbragia Family Vineyards Andolsen Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Dry Creek Valley 2012</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Pleasantly aromatic tea leaf and clay aromas with cherry and mixed berry aromas, black pepper and a hint of violets. Rich, full bodied red fruit palate of red currant, raspberry and cherry, dark chocolate on the mid palate and a creamy texture coming through on the finish supported by a lattice of chewy tannins and medium-bold acidity. Good complexity and ripe fruit with just a touch of fresh herb and baking spice to finish. 90 pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Collier Falls Hillside Estate Petite Sirah Dry Creek Valley 2012</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Decadent butter cream and vanilla aromas with oak spice and a light savory note coming through amidst black currant and blackberry fruit. Chewy tannins and herbed fruit on the palate with dried basil and sage leaf framing raspberry, cherry and cranberry fruit. The fruit is delicate and candied but retreats on the finish leaving behind floral notes of earth and chewy tannins.</p> Fri, 15 Sep 2017 00:00:00 -0400 article6975 The Water and Your Wine Nova McCune Cadamatre MW <p>Galileo once said &ldquo;Wine is water, held together by sunlight.&rdquo; With all the record rainfall that NY has been getting this year, it&rsquo;s been impossible not to think about how water affects wine quality.&nbsp; Too much or too little can significantly impact the way a harvest will develop.&nbsp; Since the largest chemical component of wine is also water, Galileo was not that far off in his estimation.<br /> Nearly all of the main physiological functions of the vine depend on water for healthy growth.&nbsp; During transpiration, which is the breathing mechanism of the vine, water is pulled from the soil by the roots, transported it up the plant through the part of the vascular system (think of it like the blood vessels of a plant) called Xylem, and it is released out through the stomata, which are openings on the undersides of the vine leaves.&nbsp; If one thinks of water as being pulled up through the vine and out the leaves by the air, then one then has the concept of transpiration.&nbsp; This evaporative pull allows the vine to continue pulling water and essential nutrients from the soil for all its main functions. &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The effects of water in the vineyard rely specifically on what time of the growing season the surplus or shortage of water occurs.&nbsp; At bud break, the vines have been pruned and are ready to begin a new vintage.&nbsp; At this time, it is important that the vine have enough moisture in the soil to begin the production of leaves and shoots which will soon become large enough to begin the process of transpiration and photosynthesis.&nbsp; During bloom and fruit set, it is still important for the vine to have adequate water supplies from the soil; however, rain can be problematic because it interferes with the pollination of the grape flowers.&nbsp; While domesticated grapevines do self-pollinate it is important that the calyptera (the tiny cap covering the stamen and pistil of the grape flowers) release and fall off without sticking due to moisture to ensure effective pollination. Rain can inhibit this process and lead to a lower set and higher incidence of shot berries.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Once the berries have set, the next stage of the growing season is the cell division phase during which the grape produces all the cells that will be present in the final berry.&nbsp; This is a critical time to monitor water for the vine grower.&nbsp; Too little water will inhibit the process resulting in fruit that is far more likely to split from too much water later in the season.&nbsp; Conversely, too much water at this point can bring disease pressure from mildews.&nbsp; If not carefully controlled, these mildews can cause damage to the leaves and skins of the grapes which will impact photosynthesis and later impact the color and flavor development of the fruit. &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Next comes cell expansion, when the berries get bigger, and veraison, when the berries change color and soften.&nbsp; At this point, it is important to monitor water levels since too much water will burst the rapidly expanding fruit and too little water can be used to control berry size.&nbsp; This is a time where the quality of the final wine is a determining factor since too much or too little water may impact flavor concentration.&nbsp; This point also carries the danger of having too little water for the vine to function properly.&nbsp; This issue can lead to the vine halting photosynthesis, think sugar accumulation, and in turn, the ripening process.&nbsp; If this state continues unchecked, it can mean the loss of the crop or the loss of the entire vine due to water stress.&nbsp; Vines will begin to drop leaves under extreme water stress which will impact the ability to produce sugars even if water returns within the next few days.&nbsp; Sunburn can also present a problem once the leaves shut down as they curl up away from the sun and can expose the fruit skins to direct sunlight in hot weather. &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Harvest is the last critical point in the growing season.&nbsp; Too much water during this time can dilute the flavors, sugar, and acids of the fruit leading to a less concentrated wine in the winery.&nbsp; On the other hand, too little water at harvest carries the risk of the grapes beginning to desiccate which causes the sugar to rise rapidly and without warning.&nbsp; Winemakers must quickly decide how much is too much or too little and harvest the fruit before the desired qualities are lost. &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> It is a delicate balance that wine growers have to walk between too little and too much water.&nbsp; In areas which use irrigation, this is less of a concern because water can be applied as needed.&nbsp; However, in areas which irrigation is not allowed or in vineyards which do not have irrigation one is at the mercy of Mother Nature since water plays such a vital role in the development of wine grapes.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em>Nova Cadamatre is the first female winemaker in the US to achieve the title of Master of Wine and one of only four American winemakers to do so. Currently she resides in the beautiful Finger Lakes of upstate NY with her husband, Brian, and son, Nathaniel. By day she is Director of Winemaking for Canandaigua Winery for whom she makes the 240 Days wines; a Riesling, dry Rose, and Cabernet Franc. By night, she is the owner of Trestle Thirty One, a high end boutique wine brand making age worthy dry Riesling. In 2014, Cadamatre was named to Wine Enthusiast&rsquo;s Top 40 under 40 list and has numerous 90+ scoring wines to her credit. Originally from Greer, South Carolina, Cadamatre began her career in wine after moving to New York to pursue horticulture. As one of the first graduates of Cornell&rsquo;s Viticulture and Enology program in 2006, Nova relocated to California to assume a number of winemaking roles with many iconic wineries including Beringer, Chateau St. Jean, Chateau Souverain, and most recently at Robert Mondavi Winery. There she was the red winemaker focusing on Cabernet Sauvignon from the iconic To Kalon Vineyard. Nova is a WSET Alumni, blogger, wine writer, Ningxia Winemaker Challenge contestant, and is active on social media. Follow her on her blog at <a href=""><strong></strong></a>, on Twitter <a href=""><strong>@NovaCadamatre</strong></a>, on Instagram <a href=""><strong>@nova_cadamatre</strong></a>, and follow her wine brand at <a href=""><strong></strong></a>.</em></p> Fri, 15 Sep 2017 00:00:00 -0400 article6976 The Many Sides of German Wine Alan Tardi <p>This past spring I took my very first wine trip to Germany. Before I took off, I did a bit of homework: There are thirteen regions <em>(Anbaugebiete)</em> for quality wine production in Germany: Ahr, Baden, Franconia, Hessische Bergstrasse, Mittelrhein, Mosel, Nahe, Palatinate, Rheingau, Rheinhessen, Saale-Unstrut, Saxony, and W&uuml;rttemberg. Most of these regions are located in the southwestern part of the country and most of them are in some way connected to the Rhine River, which begins in the Swiss Alps to the south and flows northwards across the western side of Germany into and across the Netherlands before emptying into the North Sea. The thirteen regions are further divided into 39 sub-regions or districts called Bereich, and nearly 60% of quality wine production takes place in the federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate where 6 of the 13 regions are located. From here it gets a bit more complicated but hang in there because this is important information that will give you a good handle on getting to know German wine.<br /> In Germany, &ldquo;quality wine,&rdquo; usually refers to a category known as <strong>Pr&auml;dikatswein</strong>, as opposed to Landwein and Taffelwein, which are simpler wines intended almost exclusively for local consumption. The official regulations, implemented in 1971 and slightly revamped in 2007, consist of six basic categories based on the ripeness (sugar content) of the grapes at harvest, as measured by the weight of the juice: <strong>Kabinett </strong>has the lowest density or ripeness of grapes (though they are still fully ripe); then comes <strong>Sp&auml;tlese </strong>(&lsquo;late harvest&rsquo;), <strong>Auslese </strong>(&lsquo;select harvest&rsquo;), <strong>Beerenauslese </strong>(&lsquo;select berry harvest&rsquo;), <strong>Trockenbeerenauslese </strong>(&lsquo;select dry berry harvest&rsquo;), and <strong>Eiswein </strong>(ice wine&rsquo;).<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The really critical thing here is that these categories, which often appear on German wine labels, refer to the ripeness (= sweetness) of the grapes at harvest, as well as the length of time the grapes spend on the vine and when they are harvested, but <em>not necessarily the sweetness in the finished wine</em>. While this might seem counter intuitive and is, in fact, a bit confusing, there&rsquo;s a good reason for it: Because Germany&rsquo;s wine-growing areas are very far north &mdash; some actually go beyond the 50th degree latitude beyond which grapevines cannot generally grow &mdash; it was often difficult to obtain sufficient ripeness in the grapes, so a naturally higher sugar content was the main distinguishing factor between high-quality wine and plonk. More sugar and a longer growing time means more alcohol, more flavor and more aromatic components, but does not necessarily mean a sweet finished wine. (The Pr&auml;dikatswein category prohibits the addition of sugar during fermentation, which is known as chaptalization.)<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The last three categories indicate wines from grapes that are harvested extremely late and so are always sweet. Beerenauslese refers to a wine made from grapes that have been affected by an airborne fungus called botrytis cinerea (aka &lsquo;noble rot&rsquo;) which, under the right circumstances, can be a noble thing indeed, causing the grapes to loose moisture before being picked, thus concentrating the sugar and intensity while giving the wine distinctive aromas of honeysuckle, dried apricot, and porcini mushroom, along with more viscosity. Trockenbeerenauslese goes one step further, producing a wine made from botrytis-infected grapes that have almost completely shriveled (the <em>trocken </em>here means &lsquo;dried out&rsquo;) giving the wine even more intensity and sweetness. Ice Wine is made from grapes unaffected by botrytis that have remained on the vine past the first big freeze, which gives them tremendous ripeness and concentration, as well as sweetness. When finally harvested, the frozen clusters are immediately pressed and then fermented, to make a small amount of very concentrated, sweet and complex wine.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Because these three types of wine are completely dependent on a particular series of climatic events including proper heat and sunlight, ripeness, humidity, ventilation and the timely onset of cooler temperatures, they are made in very small quantities and not in every year.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Though Kabinett originated as a high-quality wine that was kept in a special cabinet, today it is generally a simple, fruit forward low-alcohol wine typically made in an off-dry style (known as Feinherb or Halbtrocken), whereas the &lsquo;late harvest&rsquo; and &lsquo;select late harvest&rsquo; are often as sweet as their names suggest, but not always. This is where it starts to get especially confusing, because it is entirely possible &mdash; and increasingly common &mdash; to find a Sp&auml;tlese or Auselese (or even a Kabinett) made from very ripe grapes in which most of the sugar has been fermented out into a truly dry wine. Often these wines will say &lsquo;Trocken&rdquo; on the label, which must have 9 grams or less of residual sugar per liter. Some bottles destined for export might even have the word &ldquo;Dry&rdquo; on the label, though most will not tell you what the actual amount of sweetness/dryness (as measured in grams of residual sugar per liter) actually is.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> We&rsquo;ll talk a bit more about sugar in a moment, but it is important to remember that residual sugar is not the only significant factor in a wine. Another and perhaps even more critical consideration is precisely where the grapes used to make it come from.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> In many Old-World wine areas, there are major differences not only between different growing regions but also between different sub-regions and even individual vineyard sites within the same small area. This is something that the official regulations of 1971 tended to overlook, or at least under-emphasize. And so, in 2012 a private organization of producers called the Verband Deutscher Pr&auml;dikats or <strong>VDP </strong>(which was originally founded in 1910) unveiled its own system of wine categories based on a hierarchy of increasingly specific geographic areas of production that closely resembles the type of system used in Burgundy, France.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Gutswein</strong>, at the base of the VDP pyramid, is a category of good but somewhat generic wines that express the characteristics of an entire region. <strong>Ortswein</strong> indicates wines that come from a specific village. <strong>Erste Lage</strong>, comparable with the Burgundian Premier Cru category, are wines made from a single vineyard site, while <strong>Grosse Lage</strong>, comparable to a Grand Cru, indicates the most renowned single vineyard sites in Germany. A Grosse Lage wine that is fermented dry is known as <strong>Grosse Gewachs</strong> (GG). While it is entirely possible to find sweet wines in a VDP bottle &mdash; which is easy to spot by the stylized eagle and grape cluster insignia on the capsule &mdash; most VDP producers tend to prefer lower levels of sweetness in order to allow the characteristics of the growing area come through.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The VDP is a prestigious organization with very strict standards that its carefully vetted 200-odd members must strictly adhere to. But because non-members are welcome to use its classification system as well (except for the Grosse Gewachs indication, which is reserved exclusively for members), its emphasis on the expression of geographical origin has significantly raised the bar of quality wine production throughout the entire country.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> So far most of this information pertains to winemaking throughout Germany and to all of the permitted grape varieties, of which there are many. But each winegrowing region has its own particular dynamics and so does each grape variety. And my maiden voyage to Deutschland, organized by the non-profit educational organization Wines of Germany, focused on the Nahe and Mosel regions, and, principally, on one grape: Riesling.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Riesling is clearly the country&rsquo;s most important and most representative grape. This is the variety that is most widely planted and the one that best expresses the uniqueness of Germany&rsquo;s different territories and the identity of its winegrowing culture. While it grows in other places in the world (including the Langhe area of Piedmont, Italy and New York&rsquo;s Finger Lakes, which is one of the most promising outside of Germany), there is no doubt that this is the place it truly calls home. The grape is hardy enough to not just survive but thrive in the often extremely cold temperatures and poor rocky soils, soaking up the sunlight during the day and locking extracted nutrients and aromas in during the cool nights. What&rsquo;s more, this variety displays an uncanny ability to balance high residual sugar with bracing acidity, pronounced mineral-driven flavors and distinctively exotic aromas, all with low levels of alcohol. What this means in practical terms is that Riesling has the potential to carry-off a fairly high level of sweetness without seeming overly sweet, while even the driest versions still retain sufficient fruit to round them out. Despite low alcohol and the absence of tannins, Riesling has the potential to evolve positively in the bottle for many years. And it also has an uncanny ability to respond to and encapsulate the particular and sometimes very subtle characteristics of the places where it grows.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> It takes just one glance around the Mosel to know that you are in an extraordinary winegrowing area. From its origins in the Vosges Mountains of France, the river heads northward through Luxemburg into Germany (an area known as the Upper Mosel), picks up steam from the Saar and Ruwer Rivers, and, after passing through the city of Trier, gets all squiggly in the middle section known as Mittelmosel or Bernkastel after its most famous city, in some places practically doubling back into itself, before lengthening out in the Lower Mosel and joining the Rhine River at Kolbenz.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Steep vine-covered slopes rise up vertically from the riverbanks sometimes interrupted by rock outcroppings, and the vine-covered areas shift back and forth from one side of the river to another (or both), based the exposition offered by its sharp twists and turns. Conversely, after careening up a curvy narrow road to visit one vineyard site (during which a member of our group got a bad case of car sickness), we looked straight down at the majestic river far below over steep angles &mdash; in some cases nearly 70 degrees steep &mdash; of vineyards clinging to the hill covered with loose dusty topsoil littered with shards of slate.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Slate is the predominant material in the vineyards of the Mosel, especially in the middle section, but there are many different types &mdash; red, blue, Devonian &mdash; as well as other types of stone including Greywacke, a dark sedimentary sandstone with grains of quartz, and clay. This variety of soils, along with other factors like grade, exposition and altitude, make for a multitude of nuances in the wines, even from vineyards within the same area and even when dealing with the same grape variety. In addition to the flavor and aromatic qualities these different types of soils might contribute, the rocks absorb heat from sunlight during the day, which they give off at night, helping to protect the grapes from the harsh nighttime temperatures. Also, it is thought that sunlight reflecting off the river acts as an additional stimulus to the photosynthesis of the vines.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The Nahe region is located 40 kilometers (25 miles) south along the Nahe River, which runs parallel to the Mosel and empties into the Rhine, though its course is less twisty and about half the length. Like the Mosel, the Nahe region is divided into three parts &mdash; upper, middle (known as Bad Kreuznach, after its biggest town) and lower. Here too the predominant grape variety is Riesling, but other grape varieties like pinot noir (sp&auml;tburgunder), pinot blanc (weissburgunder) and pinto gris (grauburgunder) also do particularly well.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The angles of the hills in the Nahe are a bit less extreme and the altitudes a bit lower than the Mosel. But what makes it really different is the soil. Instead of the predominant slate of the Mosel, here much of the rock is of volcanic origin, either a type of red volcanic stone or a softer greyish porphyritic one called Andesite, often mixed with clay. This, along with its position a bit further south, gives the wines from this area a distinctive spiciness in the nose and a bit more body on the palate.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> This trip gave me a quick but intense first real glimpse at a tremendous winegrowing area I had largely overlooked, and there were a number of important takeaways: First of all, not all German wine &mdash; and especially not all Rieslings &mdash; are sweet. And even when there&rsquo;s a wine with a higher amount of residual sweetness than I might generally tolerate, it can be sufficiently balanced by other factors such as minerality and acidity so that the unique characteristics of this great grape variety and fantastic winegrowing areas can come through. If it&rsquo;s really dry you&rsquo;re after, look for a Sp&auml;tlese or Auslese with &lsquo;Trocken&rsquo; on the label and don&rsquo;t let the long names scare you! You can find exceptional terroir-driven (and food friendly) wines here at a very reasonable price.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Here are wines of some producers we visited that are currently available in the US:<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Nahe</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Tesch &mdash; Riesling L&ouml;her Berg 2015 (12.5% alcohol by volume)</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Beautiful, enticing aroma of ripe fruit and loamy earth with a touch of smokey caramel. When it first hits your palate it feels soft, almost creamy, then blossoms into Key lime pie with a long arc of flavor ending with a friendly lemon pith finish and lingering after taste.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Martin Tesch, current proprietor of his family&rsquo;s winery that was founded in 1723, is a rock star of a wine maker. Part of this might have to do with the rock memorabilia prominently displayed in the winery&rsquo;s tasting room, part of it with the fact that many actual rock stars and others in the music business are his clients, and the rest with his &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t need no education&rdquo; demeanor. (Martin is also a member of a group of German winemakers 35 years and under called &ldquo;<strong><a href="">Generation Riesling</a>&rdquo;</strong> that was founded by the German Wine Institute in 2006. Most of all, his wines rock. Tesch is one of the few wineries we encountered that makes only dry wines, and they&rsquo;re all excellent. Besides L&ouml;her Berg, Tesch makes four other single-vineyard Rieslings plus the winery&rsquo;s flagship &ldquo;<a href=""><strong>Riesling Unplugged</strong></a>.&rdquo;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>D&ouml;nnhoff &mdash;Riesling 2016 Dry Slate &ldquo;Tonschiefer&rdquo; (12% abv)</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Citrusy grapefruit peel aroma, with hints of papaya and persimmon. Smooth first palate impression builds to full ripe (but not over-ripe) fruit body framed by tart acidity and dry chalky minerality.<br /><br /> &nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;<br /><br /> If Martin Tesch is a &lsquo;rockstar,&rsquo; <a href=""><strong>Helmut D&ouml;nnhoff</strong></a> the ambassador emeritus of the Nahe, helping to put the region on the map and exalt the unique characteristics of its terroirs in his wines. And D&ouml;nnhoff makes many different ones from their 25 hectares of vineyard comprised of numerous individual parcels, from bone-dry to fruity sweet. Keep an eye out for the 2016 Riesling Roxheimer H&ouml;llenphad, and three 2016 Grosses Gew&auml;chs &mdash; Dellchen, Hermannsh&ouml;le and Felsenberg &mdash; which should be arriving in the US this fall. &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Kruger Rumpf &mdash; 2016 Pinot Noir Ros&eacute;</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Kruger Rumpf makes many excellent Rieslings (and we tasted many of them our very first night of the trip, at a long table on an outdoor patio at a casual restaurant adjacent to the winery run by the Kruger Rumpf family). But the Nahe also makes great pinot noir (sp&auml;tburgunder), and this ros&eacute; is one of them. Palest salmon-pink color. Delicate and appealing aromas of fraises des bois and green plum, with a touch of mowed lawn. Tart cranberry and crabapple flavors balanced by sea salt mineral with a nice clean finish. Perfectly refreshing in the summertime, but this is a ros&eacute; to drink all year round and goes very nicely with food.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> While the family winegrowing activity dates back to 1708, it was <a href=""><strong>Stefan Rumpf </strong></a>who began to focus on producing and bottling wine under their own label in 1984, an endeavor which is now spearheaded by his quietly charismatic redheaded son Georg, our host on this evening, and Georg&rsquo;s brother Phillip. Their mother Cornelia oversees the restaurant operation, including food preparation, and Stefan, who was at an adjacent table with his wife, now appears to greatly enjoy the fruits of both operations.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Keep an eye out for the 2016 Rieslings, especially the Im Pitterberg GG and Dautenpfl&auml;nzer GG, that should be arriving in the US in early fall.<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Mosel</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Dr. Loosen &mdash; 2015 Riesling &Uuml;rziger W&uuml;rzgarten Sp&auml;tlese Dry Grosses Gewachs Alte Reben</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Restrained spicy aroma of white pepper and ginger, with hints of wet pebbles, peach pits and dried fig. Medium-full bodied peach cobbler palate with a refreshing dry finish and slight bitter after taste. Made from un-grafted old vines in a great single-vineyard of red volcanic soil.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> With his long curly hair (which seems a bit disheveled even when it&rsquo;s not), round spectacles, and exuberant personality, <a href=""><strong>Ernst Loosen</strong></a> comes across as a sort of mad professor. He is also an engaging and generous person, as well as a great wine maker and perennial traveller, who has done much to help spread the Riesling gospel throughout the world. During our visit with him we got to taste a 2016 &Uuml;rziger W&uuml;rzgarten Sp&auml;tlese against another &Uuml;rziger W&uuml;rzgarten from 1997, offering a tremendous opportunity to see how a Riesling from a top-notch vineyard can evolve over time. Then we moved into an adjacent salon for an exceptional dinner with many great bottles, including an old Pommard from his private cellar.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Dr. H. Tanisch</strong></a> <strong>&mdash; 2014 Riesling Sp&auml;tlese Trocken Predikatswein (10.5% abv)</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Darker golden-yellow amber color; looks slightly viscous. Aroma of macerated apricots, acacia honey and varnish. Dense but not thick in the mouth, with flavors of bitter orange, dried apricot and cedar, followed by a long lactic finish with a touch of soft porous stone. Tremendous personality in a low-alcohol package. Also, demonstrates the additional layers of complexity a well-made Riesling can take on after a few years of bottle ageing.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Dr. Pauly-Bergweiler</strong></a> <strong>&mdash; 2014 Riesling Sp&auml;tlese Wehlener Sonnenuhr (9% abv)</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Okay, I admit it (just in case you haven&rsquo;t already guessed): I have an aversion to sweet things, and even the driest Riesling has enough fruit for my personal palate preferences. This wine pushes the envelope: after an amazingly alluring aroma of fig clafoutis with a pinch of allspice and white pepper, honey sweetness emerges and you think its going to take over. But it doesn&rsquo;t. Bitter lemon peel acidity kicks in, along with a soft, rounded stoniness, and the three elements merrily play off one another to a long graceful finish. This is a compelling example of how a relatively high amount of residual sugar can be an important component of an exceptional Riesling rather than a dictator.</p> Fri, 08 Sep 2017 00:00:00 -0400 article6972 Summer Rosé for Fall & Winter Pairings Mark Angelillo <p>Have you been drowning in ros&eacute;? For most of us it&rsquo;s a summertime guarantee. Gratefully, the majority of ros&eacute; have something unique to share. Endless combinations of grapes, production methods, climate and terroir make variety possible. The funny thing is that once fall hits ros&eacute; is soon forgotten. It&rsquo;s a curious circumstance to me; both fall and winter are filled with ros&eacute;-friendly situations. But which summer ros&eacute; wines will you carry past Labor Day and into turkey pairing season? Here&rsquo;s a geographical breakdown of the best of my favorite summer ros&eacute; for fall and winter.<br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Roussillon, France</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Many people associate Roussillon with Vins Doux Naturels, a sweet wine created by including fortifying spirits in the fermentation process. The process dates back to the early thirteenth century. But the region&rsquo;s expertise in ros&eacute; winemaking should not be overlooked.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> A premier example is the <a href=""><strong>2016 Domaine Lafage Grand Cuvee ros&eacute;</strong></a> from AOC Cotes du Roussillon, my favorite bottle of the summer. Jean-Marc and Eliane Lafage farm 160 hectares of vines located just south of the capital of French Catalonia, Perpignan. That&rsquo;s a stone&rsquo;s throw from the Spanish border. Their organically farmed vineyards span from the foothills of the Pyrenees to the Mediterranean Sea.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The wine is made from a combination of Grenache, Grenache Gris, and Mourvedre grapes, hand-harvested from sixty-five to eighty year-old vines. Gentle direct press prevents bitterness. Even the taille (a type of juice produced during the pressing process that contains more tannin than sugar or acidity) is discarded. What we have here is bottle that achieves the apotheosis of balance. Wine Advocate gave the 2014 vintage 92 points, while the 2013 received 94 points. You can pick it up for about $25, a true steal in light of its quality.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Languedoc, France</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Mont Gravet</strong></a> is consistently one of my favorite value priced ros&eacute; for a crowd. The 2016 is less than ten dollars per bottle. This is a Cinsault-based ros&eacute;, a classic approach giving way to a refreshing result. Cherry, strawberry and raspberry aromas are distinctly present but quite light. It&rsquo;s a bit more generous on the palate with a candied quality, medium to full body and strawberry fruit; the epitome of &ldquo;easy-drinking&rdquo;.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Russian River Valley, California</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Rodney Strong is an icon of the Russian River Valley, and California on the whole. This year marked the introduction of the<strong> </strong><a href=""><strong>2016 vintage ros&eacute; of Pinot Noir</strong></a>. It&rsquo;s a stellar example of ros&eacute; winemaking in the New World. Pleasant watermelon and cherry aromas are juicy and inviting. This has a fresh, tingling acidity and a zesty spice on the palate. It&rsquo;s playful and clean with excellent fruit notes of cranberry, cherry and strawberry leading up to a bit of an earthy finish. I&rsquo;m calling 90 points on this one, and looking forward to the second vintage of what I hope will be many.<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> Yet another jewel of the Russian River Valley, <a href=""><strong>J Vineyards</strong></a>, delivers a fantastic non-vintage brut ros&eacute; to prime your palate for sparkling season. It brings pleasantly rustic, smoky strawberry and sour cherry aromas with a creamy vanilla note and light toast. The palate is full bodied, zesty and decadent with cherry, strawberry and ripe watermelon flavors, a buoyant acidity and lively texture with a bit of grapefruit zest and vanilla frosting on the finish adding some depth. I call 92 points here.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Pfalz, Germany</strong></a><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> German ros&eacute; grew from 6% to 11% of total production between 2003 and 2016. Pfalz, the driest of Germany&rsquo;s wine regions and a direct neighbor to Alsace, is the perfect place to find it. The <a href=""><strong>2016 Villa Wolf</strong></a> displays the best facets of well-ripened Pinot Noir in ros&eacute; form.&nbsp; Its light watermelon and raspberry aromas are restrained and pleasant. There&rsquo;s a touch of effervescence on the palate, with bold cranberry and cherry fruit and a sharp finish of mineral-rich depth.<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> Need some pairings? Try our <a href=""><strong>recipe database</strong></a> and <a href=""><strong>pairing guides</strong></a>.</p> Fri, 01 Sep 2017 00:00:00 -0400 article6970 Wine Grapes in the Spotlight Snooth Editorial <p>Today we&rsquo;re profiling a wine grape of true substance. It&rsquo;s an undisputed champion of depth in terms of both color and fruit. This grape gives new meaning to the word &ldquo;inky&rdquo; while retaining a grace and acidity that softens the powerful fruit on your palate. The grape is Alicante Bouschet.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Alicante Bouschet was created by Henri Bouschet in mid-1850s France. It&rsquo;s a cross between Garnacha and Petit Bouschet. Known for its fleshy red berries and deep color, just a small amount of Alicante Bouschet in any blend will intensify a wine&rsquo;s hue.<br /> Portugal has demonstrated a knack for this varietal, with a growing emphasis in the Alentejo region. Winemakers have been flocking here for the past few decades, expressing a deep appreciation for the region&rsquo;s rolling countryside and warm, dry summers. These winemakers have demonstrated significant skill with wrangling the notoriously high-yielding Alicante Bouschet. They&rsquo;re showcasing the grape in blends and varietal bottlings alike. The varietal bottlings are truly special, presenting the possibilities of multi-dimensional depth in the absence of overpowering tannins.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Two to try from producers you&rsquo;ll love:<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Espor&atilde;o AB Alicante Bouschet 2012</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em>A varietal bottling made by rock star Aussie winemaker David Baverstock and Lu&iacute;s Patr&atilde;o.</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Herdade dos Grous Moon Harvested Alicante B 2015</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em>Alentejo is a hot spot for wine travelers from around the world. Herdade dos Grous offers luxurious accommodations AND a great varietal bottling of Alicante Bouschet to pair with your Filet Mignon. &nbsp;</em><br /><br /> </p> Fri, 01 Sep 2017 00:00:00 -0400 article6971 Snooth's Spirit of the Week is... Gabe Sasso <p><strong>Bozal Mezcal</strong>: In Spanish Bozal means wild or untamed. Since Bozal produces their Mezcal from Agave that fits that description, it&rsquo;s an apt name. There are a number of Mezcals in the Bozal line. Some of them are produced using more than one type of Agave and others are limited to a specific type. Bozal uses traditional production methods. The Agave hearts are cooked in earthen ovens underground and then crushed and mashed with a stone wheel that&rsquo;s turned by horse power. Fermentation occurs in open air with wild yeasts. Double distillation follows. I sampled two offerings from their line, what impressed me most, in addition to overall quality, was how distinct they are from one another. This speaks largely to the different Agave used. The ceramic bottles used for Bozal nod to traditional cups used to drink Mezcal. The unique look and select colors for each expression means they&rsquo;ll stand out on your shelf too.<br /> <strong>Bozal Mezcal Espad&iacute;n-Barril Mexicano Ensamble ($50)</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> This Mezxal was produced using three distinct types of Agave (Espad&iacute;n, Barril, and Mexicano) that are indigenous to the Oaxaca and Guerrero hillsides and grow wild.&nbsp; Each type of Agave brings different aroma and flavor elements with it. Bits of citrus underlie a burst of pure agave aromas here. Taking the first sip the inherent smokiness sits just below the surface of savory herbs and fruit flavors. The finish is lengthy and mellow with gently lingering flavors. This is a really well rounded Mezcal that would be a great introduction to the spirit for those who are unfamiliar. At around $50 it provides excellent value.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Bozal Mezcal Cuixe Single Maguey ($80)</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> This Mezcal was produced entirely from Cuixe. This type of Agave grows vertically and features just a single stalk. It&rsquo;s one of the most difficult types of Agave to harvest and work with. Papaya and tangerine aromas light up the expressive nose. Orange rind, bits of thyme and wisps of limestone are evident on the palate along with a core of smoke. Hints of salinity are evident on the long and deeply layered finish. The duality in this Mezcal is that the single type of Agave makes it singular and precise in both aromas and flavors; on the other hand it&#39;s incredibly complex and demands attention.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The classic Paloma Cocktail is enhanced by using Mezcal in place of Tequila. The smokiness of the Mezcal and the tartness of the grapefruit soda play off of each other beautifully.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>The Paloma</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> 2 parts Bozal Mezcal Espad&iacute;n-Barril Mexicano Ensamble<br /><br /> &frac12; part Lime Juice<br /><br /> Grapefruit soda<br /><br /> Salt for rim<br /><br /> Salt the rim of a Collins Glass. Fill the glass with ice. Add the Mezcal and lime juice. Fill the glass with grapefruit soda.</p> Tue, 22 Aug 2017 00:00:00 -0400 article6968 Spanish Wines in the Shadows John Downes <p>Navarra may sound like a dusty desert town in an old Western movie but in reality it&rsquo;s a little known wine region that&rsquo;s been overshadowed by Rioja, its illustrious neighbour in northern Spain, for years. The region is renowned for its roses (Rosado) but in recent times Navarra&rsquo;s reds and whites are fast gaining reputation. The vineyards are located around the attractive city of Pamplona and lie on the slopes of the Pyrenees as they descend towards the river Ebro; the region&rsquo;s high altitude mountainous sites inject a nice crack of acidity into these black fruit beauties.<br /> Pamplona may be better known for its annual festival when crazy death-wish youths run rampaging bulls through the narrow streets, but this busy attractive city is Navarra&rsquo;s vinous heart. The city and Navarra&rsquo;s vineyards are also a popular sector of the famous &lsquo;Santiago de Compostela&rsquo; pilgrimage walk across the breadth of northern Spain and are therefore steeped in history having sustained weary travellers for centuries.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The vineyards are planted with the typical Spanish red varieties of Tempranillo (about 37 per cent of the total), Garnacha (26%) and Graciano whilst the Bordeaux grape duo of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot add their classic blackcurrant and damson flavours to the juicy reds. The red varieties have a bumper 95% share of the vines to produce reds and roses but, that said, don&rsquo;t write off the whites (Chardonnay is making its mark) even though they&rsquo;re scarce and can require a second mortgage. About a quarter of Navarra&rsquo;s production is Garnacha based rose so you&rsquo;ll easily find a bottle to share with friends.<br /><br /> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;<br /><br /> The region has a continental climate (long hot summers and cold winters) and is divided into 5 sub zones namely Valdizarbe, Tierra Estella (the picturesque, mountainous, limestone zone to the west of Valdizarbe), Ribera Alta (centred around the important wine town of Olite), Baja Montana (to the north-east) and Ribera Baja (in the south adjacent to the River Ebro; sandy alluvial soils). Ribera Baja is the largest sub zone in terms of area and number of wineries.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The Navarrans are very proud of their gnarled &lsquo;old Garnacha vines&rsquo; as some are over 60 years old. By the way, Garnacha is the same as France&rsquo;s Grenache grape loved by all southern Rhone quaffers. The &lsquo;old vines&rsquo; don&rsquo;t yield as much as young vines but the good news is that as the vines concentrate all their goodies into fewer grapes the flavours in the glass are more concentrated.&nbsp; It&rsquo;s therefore worth looking out for &lsquo;old vines&rsquo; on the label and paying the extra dollar or two.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> I&rsquo;m a fan of the 2010 reds. The 2012&rsquo;s are crisp and juicy whilst the cooler 2013 vintage produced a fresher style so, ring the changes this weekend and pull a Navarra red off the shelf instead of your usual Rioja. Or, better still buy a bottle of each and compare these Spanish neighbours with your neighbours.</p> Thu, 17 Aug 2017 00:00:00 -0400 article6962 The Last Wines of Summer Snooth Editorial <p>Apples, gourds, and snifters of port are right around the corner. Let&rsquo;s cherish the last bits of summer before they&rsquo;re all gone. Here are four choice picks, all under fifteen dollars, from some of the web&rsquo;s top palates. Each one pairs well with sand and suntans. Cheers!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Old Reliable Savvy-B</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> The 2016 Crowded House Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand (SRP $12.95), earned a score of 91 points at the 2017 <em>Decanter </em>World Wine Awards as a best value buy and for good reason. This Sauvignon Blanc, the result of a drought year, is intense, concentrated, and succulent. The tangy, citrusy acidity is accompanied by an unexpectedly luscious mouthfeel, thanks to <em>sur lie</em> aging. Tropical fruits and freshly-cut herbs collide on the palate. This wine is all at once juicy and sumptuous, lively, yet supple. The long finish is mouth-wateringly tart, complex, and clean. At this price point and quality, you cannot go wrong with buying this in bulk to pair with your summer.<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>Ros&eacute; in the Right Vessel</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Summertime and the livin&rsquo; is easy. You&rsquo;re off to the beach, picnics in the park, pool parties, hiking, camping, outdoor concerts or just chillin&rsquo; on the patio. If you&rsquo;re a wine aficionado, then you need a wine that&rsquo;s easy. And by &ldquo;easy&rdquo; I don&rsquo;t mean plonk. Life&rsquo;s too short!&nbsp; By easy, I mean it pairs well with a wide range of summer fare from salads to burgers to BBQ and offers superb portability. That&rsquo;s why my recommendation for an under $15 summer wine is a canned wine - the 2016 Alloy Wine Works Everyday Rose. It&rsquo;s a vibrant blend of 70% Grenache, Mourv&egrave;dre, Chardonnay, and Chenin Blanc that comes in a 500ml tallboy can, which is equivalent to over three glasses of wine. It has a refreshing and dry fresh strawberry, watermelon and peach character with hints of guava and mint leaf. It&rsquo;s a great example of the canned wine segment which has seen triple digit growth the last few years. It&rsquo;s a quality wine made by Andrew Jones of California&rsquo;s Field Recording winery from hand-picked Central Coast grapes. Since it&rsquo;s canned wine no wine opener, or glasses required (although I think it tastes better from a glass because the aromas aren&rsquo;t muted. Bring an unbreakable glass for maximum enjoyment). It&rsquo;s recyclable and will stay chilled in a koozie. Worried about it having a metallic taste? Forget about it!&nbsp; Like other beverages sold in cans, none of the can wines I&rsquo;ve tasted have had any tinny flavor. Grab a can, throw it in a cooler or your backpack and pair it with warm summer nights, dinner outdoors, friends and good times! It&rsquo;s summer time! $6.50/can; $30/4-pack; 12.5% abv.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Martin Redmond</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>ENOFYLZ Blog</strong></a><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>The Cava Craze</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> I like to beat the summer heat with ice cold bubbles. Cava is the smart buyer&#39;s choice, with the highest quality to price ratio for sparkling wines. Only wines made using the same traditional method used to make champagne can be labelled as &#39;cava&#39;, but it usually is made with local (Spanish) grapes that can thrive in Spain&#39;s hot growing season. My pick this summer is Cristalina Cava Brut by Jaume Serra. This delightful sparkling wine has aromas of flowers and toast with very fine bubbles. Flavors of apple, pear and blood orange zest with a crisp, fresh, and lively mouthfeel complete the profile for the low SRP of $10/bottle, cheap enough to be your daily drink! And if you were planning a summer of ros&eacute;, well you are in luck: Serra offers his Cristalina Cava Brut Ros&eacute; at the same price point, made with pinot noir and trepat grapes and offering a strawberry-cherry taste profile. What&#39;s not to love?<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Jim van Bergen</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>JvB UnCorked</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> Back in April, I was given the great pleasure of visiting Catalonia, Spain. As one can guess, I tasted lots and lots of Cava &ndash; the Spanish sparkling wine that is made in a similar, high quality, fashion as Champagne... yet there are variants in their process. One of the biggest differences is that Cava uses Catalan grape varieties as well as the main Champagne varieties such as Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Segura Viudas has been a huge proponent for using the Catalan varieties such as Macabeo, Parellada and the Xarel&middot;lo, yet during my visit to their impressive winery, I had a chance to try their sparkling Segura Viudas Cava Ros&eacute;, made with 90% Trepat and 10% Garnacha. What is Trepat? Well, that was my question too! It is a local variety that they are trying to save that gives pretty purple flowers and raspberry flavors with a hint of dried leaves and pepper&hellip; this wine also had some wild strawberry notes with a chalky finish. And all for only 9 bucks! You heard me&hellip; NINE dollars!!! Why has it taken me so long to drink Cava Ros&eacute;?!? And let me tell you something, after riding around on a bike across the Segura Viudas vineyards, and finally stationing ourselves at the top of one of their plots with an incredible view, there was no other wine that could have been more perfect than a Cava Ros&eacute; made with local grapes. The whole time I was in Spain, everyone kept saying that the Spanish have a long history of not marketing themselves well&hellip; hence why Cava is extremely undervalued. All I can say is to start drinking all the Cava you can get your hands on now before they become savvier at promoting themselves!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Cathrine Todd</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Dame Wine</strong></a></p> Thu, 17 Aug 2017 00:00:00 -0400 article6963 Snooth's Spirit of the Week is... Gabe Sasso <p><strong>The Lost Distillery Company &ndash; Jericho ($43):</strong> The Lost Distillery Company produces Scotch Whiskies that echo and are inspired by distilleries that closed long ago for one reason or another, often due to simple economics. Jericho was a Highland Distillery; this Scotch is a modern interpretation of what a Jericho Blended Malt Scotch would taste like today. The Jericho Distillery was in operation for 80 years, from 1824-1913. It was located in a remote area which helped it stay under the radar in the years prior to distillation becoming legal. Jordan Burn, a local source for clear water was used. Additionally the area was well known for barley production and the local hills were loaded with peat, all contributing factors to the Scotch that was produced.<br /> The deep, coppery hue stands out when you pour Jericho. Aromas of toasted wheat and citrus are prominent on the nose. Toasted pecan, wisps of dark chocolate and dried apricot dominate the palate. The finish shows off chicory, vanilla, and bits of dried, savory herbs.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The Lost Distillery Company is a fascinating producer unlike any other. They&rsquo;re dedicated to recreating the history of Scotch and I&rsquo;ll be fascinated to taste what they add to the portfolio over time.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Jericho is a well-priced offering and it offers plenty of depth and complexity sipped neat. However it&rsquo;s reasonable price point means blending it into a cocktail isn&rsquo;t out of the question. It seemed appropriate to use Jericho to create an old time classic so I tried it in a Rob Roy and the results were delicious.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Rob Roy</strong><br /><br /> 2 Parts Jericho Scotch<br /><br /> 3&frasl;4 Part Sweet vermouth<br /><br /> 3 Dashes Angostura bitters<br /><br /> 1 Cherry<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Add all the ingredients (besides the cherry) into a shaker filled with ice, cover and shake. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with the cherry.</p> Tue, 15 Aug 2017 00:00:00 -0400 article6961 It’s Time to Rethink Cava Michelle Williams <p>What comes to mind when I say Cava? Perhaps your initial thoughts are inexpensive and great for mimosas or other sparkling cocktails. Cava has suffered a bit of an identity crisis. Though sales are strong, consumers are often buying it as a base for a sparkling mixer, selecting the first Cava on the shelf or the one with the prettiest bottle. However, Cava is a diverse sparkling wine often crafted in the highest quality; therefore, it is time to give Cava a second look.<br /> Cava can be produced anywhere in Spain; however, the Pened&egrave;s region, located in Catalonia about an hour from Barcelona, is the birth place of Cava and produces the highest volume of Cava. Cava is produced using the same Methode Traditional as Champagne. In its early days Cava was produced using French grapes in order to rival Champagne. However, after the phylloxera epidemic hit Spain in 1887, most of the French grapes were destroyed, which led to a decision to replant grapes indigenous to the region. This was an important step in distinguishing Cava from Champagne and allowing it to have its own unique journey. Today the three main grapes used to craft Cava are Xarel-lo, Macabeo, and Parellada. Chardonnay is still used by some as a blending grape, and Pinot Noir, along with Garnacha, Trepat, are often used to craft Ros&eacute; Cava.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Although Cava has set itself apart from Champagne, it has maintained its use of Methode Traditional to insure it is crafted using the highest quality process. The grapes are first fermented into a still wine, followed by a second fermentation taking place in the bottle that creates the bubbles. The process birthed the name Cava, which means cave, because the minimum aging for Cava is 9 months, with some aging 30 months or more. Furthermore, most Cava is vintage, meaning each bottle is crafted only of grapes from a specific year; therefore, producers use miles of caves under the wineries so the wine can ferment in the bottle in a cool, dark, still environment.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> In the Pened&egrave;s region there is a bounty of producers crafting high quality Cava in a variety of forms. Juv&eacute; y Camps crafts Cava with an artisanal spirit. The<strong> 2013 Reserva de la Familia ($20)</strong> is a classic Cava, the workhouse of the winery, floral and fruity, bright on the palate, no dosage so it is crisp, dry, and refreshing. However, the <strong>2012 Gran Juv&eacute; y Camps ($49)</strong> and <strong>2006 La Capella Gran Reserva Brut</strong> demonstrate that additional time on the less, 42 months and ten years respectively, result in luxurious Cava with tremendous depth and elegance.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Segura Viudas, owned by Freixenet, is a well-known and trusted Cava producer for good reason. The <strong>Brut Reserva ($9)</strong> and <strong>Gran Cuvee Reserva ($14)</strong>, both with 15 months on the lees, are classic Cavas widely enjoyed. However, the <strong>Segura Viudas Reserva Heredad ($25)</strong>, with 30 months on the lees, illustrates the possibility of bready notes, rich texture, and persistent bubbles of a well-crafted, aged Cava at an affordable price.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Gramona elevates aged Cava to its own level. This fifth generation winemaking family seeks to craft Cavas that are &ldquo;among the world&rsquo;s greatest sparkling wines.&rdquo; They utilize 100% biodynamic practices as well as age the Cava on the lees from 24 to 168 months. The <strong>2012 La Cuvee Gran Reserva ($21)</strong> and the <strong>2011 Imperial ($30)</strong> are classic representations of Cava, while the <strong>2009 Ill Lustros ( $49; 96 months)</strong>, <strong>2006 Celler Batlle ($85; 120 months)</strong>, and <strong>2001 Enoteca Brut Nature ( $234; 168 months)</strong> demonstrate the glorious possibilities of well-aged Cava and how it migrates from fresh and crisp to sultry, bready, rich, and luxurious.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> If Gramona represents out of the box Cava production, then Par&eacute;s Balt&agrave; has broken the box. They practice organic and biodynamic farming techniques in the vineyard, while using ancient amphoras and other vessels to experiment with winemaking. Their <strong>2010 Blanca Cusine Gran Reserva ($40)</strong> spent 60 months on lees, offering bright notes of almonds, marmalade, and flowers. If you can imagine a sexy Cava, this is it.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Finally, Roger Goulart understands Cava production through time. They prolong the aging process as much as is necessary to achieve the highest level of quality. The <strong>2014 Brut Reserva ($19)</strong> spent 18 months on the lees, leading to a classic Cava with a kiss of sweetness in a balanced and easy to drink sparkling wine. The <strong>2005 Gran Reserva ($78)</strong>, with 10 years on the lees, takes Cava to a higher level; elegantly bright and fresh, yet rich depth and texture creates an enduring and sophisticated mouth-feel.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The next time you are buying sparkling wine seek out one of these high quality Cavas and leave the orange juice behind.</p> Fri, 11 Aug 2017 00:00:00 -0400 article6956 Snooth's Spirit of the Week is... Gabe Sasso <p><strong>Empress 1908 Gin ($40):</strong> Empress 1908 Gin comes from British Columbia. It&rsquo;s immediately striking due to its all natural vivid blue color. That color comes from the infusion of the Butterfly Pea Blossom. It&rsquo;s hand crafted and eight botanicals are utilized. When mixed with other ingredients it changes color; the addition of citrus turns it a soft pink. While the color is fun and somewhat fascinating, the flavors and aromas are what really matter. A triumvirate of citrus, floral and herbal aromas in descending amounts light up the fresh and inviting nose. Sipped neat the flavors are vibrant and alive in stunning display of freshness. Zippy acid and white pepper notes join the continuing citrus and herbal notes through the palate and finish. This is a really solid offering that toes the line between traditional flavors and far more freshness and vigor than the Gins most of us grew up around.<br /> Of course when I think of Gin it&rsquo;s largely as a cocktail ingredient. So I decided to use Empress 1908 to make one of my favorite new summertime drinks, <strong>Friends.75</strong>. Dry Creek Valley&rsquo;s <strong>Pedroncelli Winery</strong> is celebrating their 90th anniversary this year. As part of that celebration they&rsquo;ve come up with this cocktail that utilizes their friends.white. This well priced wine ($13) is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Gew&uuml;rztraminer. It along with the Gin and other ingredients creates a delicious and incredibly refreshing cocktail. Mix up a pitcher full for your next party.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Friends.75</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> 4 Parts Pedroncelli Friends.White (chilled)<br /><br /> 1 Part Empress 1908 Gin<br /><br /> &frac34; Part St. Germain<br /><br /> Splash of Club Soda<br /><br /> Twist of Lemon<br /><br /> Sprig of mint<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Fill a Collins glass with ice. Pour the wine and Gin over it. Fill with Club Soda. Add the lemon twist and mint. Stir and enjoy.</p> Tue, 08 Aug 2017 00:00:00 -0400 article6960 The Future of New Zealand Wine Cameron Douglas MS <p>The future of New Zealand wine is strong &ndash; both through local sales and, increasingly, export. International trade in wine remains highly competitive, market and margin-driven, and is always subject to the kindness or wrath of currencies trading - as well as Mother Nature&rsquo;s influence on the raw product. The climate change effects now noticeable in the northern hemisphere seem to be less evident so far in New Zealand with the weather mostly even and dramatic variation only every four or five years (2017 is not looking as good in areas as 2013 through 2016). The market for the benchmark wines of the world appears to be as strong as ever, irrespective of climate; red and white Burgundies, Spanish Rioja, American Cabernet, Austrian Gruner Veltliner, Argentinian Malbec are a few from a list that is at least one hundred strong, and New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir can be included in this collection.<br /> There&rsquo;s no question that New Zealand produces fine wines. An increasing number of examples from varieties other than Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir are getting noticed by Sommeliers and wine buyers. Some of these include: Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Syrah, Methode Traditionnelle and Ros&eacute;.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Export statistics (taken from NZ Winegrowers) reflect an increase in demand for New Zealand wine in the USA (NZ$175 million 2007 to NZ$460 million 2016), United Kingdom (NZ$227 million to NZ$381 million in 2016) and Canada (NZ$33 million to NZ$107 million in 2016); the Netherlands and China are the next two on the list. Variety wise - Sauvignon Blanc leads the pack by a significant amount exported (68 million litres in 2008 to 182 million litres 2016); Pinot Noir (12 million litres in 2016), Chardonnay (6 million litres in 2016), Pinot Gris (almost 5 million litres in 2016), Merlot (1.9 million litres in 2016) and Sparkling wine (1.4 million litres in 2016). The export list has twenty-three varieties or styles reported in total. The average price for a NZ wine in the USA, UK and Canada is higher than for our closest and most competitive trading partner Australia.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The numbers themselves look solid, but are somewhat skewed by bulk wine exports, some very low FOB (Freight on Board) pricing and an expectation by many northern hemisphere consumers that New Zealand wine is or should be cheap. This is unfortunately an issue for the boutique or small volume producers wanting to compete on the international stage. Many of these wines are outstanding examples and sadly overlooked in favour of international counterparts, or they are deemed too expensive for a &lsquo;New Zealand&rsquo; wine. Some of the best wines available for export are held back by the bulk wine trade and &lsquo;cheap wine&rsquo; perceptions.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Even though New Zealand wine commands a higher price on average than its major competitor, this is somewhat skewed by the constant low price of many Australian wines, and imports from other countries that keep prices low and margins trim. The low-price drive of the 1990s remains a challenge for Wines Australia to overcome despite significant investment taking place to rebrand the wine globally (and a similar focus on higher quality examples).<br /><br /> <br /><br /> At home New Zealand wine sells extremely well, and in many cases producers are running out of stock sooner than expected &ndash; the roll over to 2016 Pinot Noir already is one example - many of these wines should be in the producer&rsquo;s warehouse for at least another year. Some companies are forced to release the next vintage early, or ask their loyal customers to hold off for the next formal release. &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> This does present certain challenges - including forecasting market demands, and the role the value of the New Zealand dollar plays in export sales (the lower the better). Planning twelve to thirty-six months ahead along with maintaining a capital budget that allows for market exploration as well as maintenance of current sales levels is a constant headache for many.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> One of the competitive advantages developed to meet these challenges has been to diversify and target multiple markets simultaneously &ndash; especially so for exports. This is best achieved by maintaining a portfolio of wines at multiple price points targeting different sectors of the market. These sectors include supermarket, fine retail, on-premise restaurant or hotel, and strategic international locations with specific hubs for distribution to consumers-direct, restaurants-direct where possible &ndash; and links with supermarket chains or specialty stores (think model). These efforts are designed to attract the attention of consumers and trade buyers across multiple price point thresholds.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> One excellent example of how this model can be successful is the Villa Maria brand, headed by industry icon Sir George Fistonich. Quality and consistency, over-delivering for the price, and being instantly recognisable visually are attributes of a successful model. Many of the Villa Maria wines are immediately noticeable, with white, copper-gold or black labels and a simple logo, and Private Bin, Cellar Selection and Reserve wines in the range under the same branding. Sir George ensures the winemakers for each of these have autonomy stylistically.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> I have dined at international airport restaurants many times and often seen a Villa Maria Cellar Selection Sauvignon Blanc available by the glass at a very attractive price. In New York Villa Maria Reserve Pinot Noir is listed at Michelin Starred destination restaurants such as The Musket Room.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Villa Maria is a company that manages its market presence constantly and well, does not rest on its laurels and demonstrates that vision, persistence, patience, quality raw product and attention to detail can lift the value and enhance New Zealand wine&rsquo;s reputation. The future of New Zealand wine is strong, and while the road to market will always be challenging the rewards of sales and loyalty are available.</p> Fri, 04 Aug 2017 00:00:00 -0400 article6958 The Future of Emilio Moro Snooth Editorial <p>You already know and adore Emilio Moro. This winery is the jewel of Ribera del Duero.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The Moro family, now four generations deep into winemaking, is known for expertly crafted Tinto Fino (a grape also known as Tempranillo). Since they began farming grapes the Moro family has used a specific Tinto Fino clone unrivaled in its specialness. The fruit clusters are small and loose which creates focused, concentrated and balanced flavors. This is just part of what gives Emilio Moro wines an unquestionable charisma.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> What you may not know is that the Moro family is defining the future of wine in Ribera del Duero. Enter: Cepa 21, the latest winery project from Emilio Moro.<br /> &ldquo;Cepa&rdquo; is the word for vine, and &ldquo;21&rdquo; refers to the twenty-first century. Cepa 21 demonstrates a wish to merge the past and present to forge a future for wine lovers. Here, the Moro family heritage is brought into a modern context. The latest technologies are employed as some of the world&rsquo;s most prized grapes are turned into superior wines.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> There are a so many competing value brands on the market, but with Cepa 21 the consumer can feel assured of the Moro family seal. Take Cepa 21&rsquo;s Hito Rosato (100% Tinto Fino) as an example. It&rsquo;s bursting with delicate floral and ripe fruit characteristics sure to impress a wide array of palates. Have a case on hand for your next summer soir&eacute;e -- because it&rsquo;s a label you can trust.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Look for more from Cepa 21 as the Moro family continues to shape the future of what they&rsquo;ve helped to define.</p> Fri, 04 Aug 2017 00:00:00 -0400 article6959 Expert Reveals German Wine Secrets Snooth Editorial <p>It&rsquo;s no secret that we love German wines, but there&rsquo;s more to them than meets the eye. Germany is well known for superior winemaking, perfectly evolved grape varieties, and of course terroir. Tragically, so many wine drinkers get stuck on stereotypes and miss out on lots of delicious details. In this spirit, here are five German wine &ldquo;secrets&rdquo; you may not know about, as revealed by June Rodil, MS, Beverage Director for McGuire Moorman Hospitality Group.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>1. When it comes to white wine, there&rsquo;s more to Germany than Riesling.</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> It&rsquo;s no wonder that Riesling is Germany&rsquo;s most widely planted grape variety. Wine drinkers around the world simply adore the stuff and demand is high. The cold-hardy variety is native to Germany and it&rsquo;s behind some of the world&rsquo;s most beloved white wines. But believe it or not, there is life after German Riesling! German Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, and Silvaner, to name a few, are flooring white wine palates everywhere. As June notes:<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <em>&ldquo;Alternatives to Riesling are plentiful and it&rsquo;s pretty hard to choose a favorite. Germany&rsquo;s climate is apt for pure, clean, fresh, and vibrant whites. Whether it&rsquo;s a Pinot Blanc that tastes like you&rsquo;re biting into a crunchy white peach or a heady and perfumed Gew&uuml;rztraminer &ndash; their finish is filled with verve that revitalizes the palate and readies it for more food. This summer, I&rsquo;ve been enjoying my fair share of Scheurebe and Silvaner &ndash; both have a lovely sweet herbaceous note to their aromas without being as aggressively green as Sauvignon Blanc. It doesn&rsquo;t hurt that most Silvaner from Franken comes in a nifty bottle called a Bocksbeutel that&rsquo;s both traditional and novel and an exceptionally great talking piece &ndash; just ask your sommelier for the translation of Bocksbeutel.&rdquo;</em><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <strong>2. The Password is: Sp&auml;tburgunder</strong><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> Since the mid-2000s or so, American wine drinkers have fallen head over heels for Pinot Noir. Guess what? Germany has been producing quality Pinot Noir under the name &ldquo;Sp&auml;tburgunder&rdquo; for ages. In fact, Germany is actually the third largest producer of Pinot Noir in the world. While Pinot lovers are distracted by over-hyped selections, Germany offers expertly crafted Pinot Noir at fantastic values. Plantings are on the rise as more wine drinkers demand these elegant interpretations of their favorite grape.<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <em>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s about 100 degrees outside as I type this. I like red wine, but holy cow, it does not go with my disposition after running around on a day like today. Light, refreshing, thin-skinned reds that can be served with a slight chill are where it&rsquo;s at&mdash;and Sp&auml;tburgunder fulfills that and more. Don&rsquo;t forget how nuanced this grape is as well&mdash;not only does it easily allow you to forget your climate woes, it also gives you flavors like tart cherries with dried red African tea and river rocks. There&rsquo;s a lot going on in there but it&rsquo;s not overt, over oaked, or over the top. It doesn&rsquo;t throw itself at you, but, rather makes it easy for you to go back for more.&rdquo;</em><br /> <strong>3. Rah! Rah! For Ros&eacute;</strong><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> The rallying cries are loud and proud -- from &ldquo;Yes Way, Ros&eacute;&rdquo; to &ldquo;Ros&eacute; All Day&rdquo;, the world is hooked on ros&eacute;! Popularity gives rise to imitation, so there&rsquo;s lots of random ros&eacute; out there nowadays. How will you know if you&rsquo;ve got the real deal? Centuries of skilled winemaking don&rsquo;t lie. German winemakers harvest the healthiest grapes first to make their ros&eacute; wines. This manages alcohol levels and ensures the best quality. Wine drinkers love this stuff, and it shows in the numbers. Total production increased from 6% to 11% between 2003 and 2016. That&rsquo;s 82 million liters of German ros&eacute;!<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <em>&ldquo;We can barely keep ros&eacute; on the shelf at any and all our restaurant locations and with so many options flooding the market, it&rsquo;s important to bring quality ros&eacute; to our guests. While ros&eacute; may be a small percentage of production for German winemakers, the care for exacting quality is at the same high level as the rest of their wines, and the price is just as competitive as the rest of the world. Trends are screaming for clean, dry, crisp, light bodied ros&eacute; from consumers&ndash;add complexity, balanced fruit and structure to that and it&rsquo;s difficult to walk away from these wines.&rdquo;</em><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <strong>4. Wait a Sekt, is that sparkling German wine?</strong><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> Sekt is both an endless source of fun wine puns and a remarkable German sparkling wine. Most of these wines are made in the Charmat method, which is perfect for preserving the intense aromatics of German varietals. Don&rsquo;t overlook these wines the next time you&rsquo;re celebrating a special occasion. These are quality bottles to have on hand for anniversaries, graduations, and of course, New Year&rsquo;s Eve.<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <em>&ldquo;Bubbles make everyone happy and I applaud it in many different forms. Sekt can be an inviting change to what you may see on many retail shelves and wine lists: Prosecco, Cava, Champagne. And while those are wonderful examples, there should be room for well done sparkling wines that provide variety in aromatics and flavor, are still serious, but don&rsquo;t break the bank. Riesling, in all it&rsquo;s chameleon-like capacities, makes for wonderful Sekt with its floral undertones, natural tart citrus notes, and long finish.&rdquo;</em><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <strong>5. The story of Riesling is evolving. &nbsp;</strong><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> Lots of wine lovers enjoy a sweeter style of Riesling, but the trend has taken a turn for the dry. The demand for mineral-driven, dry German Rieslings is on the rise! Back in 1985, just 16% of German Rieslings were produced in a dry style. As of 2016, it&rsquo;s a whopping 46.3%. Pop a few dry Rieslings in your wine fridge to pair with virtually any meal. They&rsquo;re a perfect companion to ceviche, spare ribs, and even banana splits.<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <em>&ldquo;I used to think that the gateway drug to Riesling was Liebfraumilch &hellip; it&rsquo;s not. Our palates have evolved and are now clamoring for dry dry dry! And while there is a special place in my heart for off-dry Riesling, the regal and universal nature of dry Riesling is evident. Those that think all Rieslings are off-dry or sweet are automatically taken aback and impressed with the fact that dry Rieslings exist, and those that laud the off-dry style cannot deny the powerful structure, longevity, and subtly delicious complexity of dry Riesling.&rdquo;</em><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <em>Want more? #TasteTheNew with Wines of Germany on</em> <a href=""><strong>Facebook</strong></a>, <a href=""><strong>Twitter</strong></a>, <em>and </em><a href=""><strong>Instagram</strong></a>.</p> Mon, 31 Jul 2017 00:00:00 -0400 article6957 Snooth's Spirit of the Week is... Gabe Sasso <p><strong>Ardbeg Kelpie Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky ($110):</strong> Every year the distillery celebrates Ardbeg Day. In addition to a party at the distillery itself they encourage aficionados of the brand to plan their own themed celebrations wherever in the world they are. They also release a limited Scotch each year tied to the event; this year Kelpie is that Scotch.<br /> Kelpie was aged in a combination of Virgin oak from the Black Sea coast and ex-Bourbon casks. Kelpie marks the first expression of Ardbeg that was aged using Black Sea coast oak. The name Kelpie comes from local lore passed down through many generations. The Kelpie is rumored to be a shape-shifting water creature. It was bottled at 46% ABV.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Prominent bits of smoke and toasted pecans are evident on the nose along with a solid core of briny aromas. The firm palate shows off dusty dark chocolate, dried apricot, continued bits of toasted nuts and hints of burnt sugar. The prodigious finish is spicy and intermingled with a combination of sweet and savory flavors that come together to form an impressive ending. Much like their regular portfolio Kelpie does a terrific job of melding big smoky characteristics with rich flavors and sweetness that create a multi-dimensional and deeply layered Scotch.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> If you&rsquo;re a fan of Peaty Scotches, certainly Ardbeg is on your go to list of Single Malts. If however you&rsquo;re new to Scotch in general or Peaty Scotches in particular, Ardbeg makes the perfect jumping off point. While they pride themselves on producing the most Peaty and Smoky Scotches out there, the offerings are always balanced by other characteristics that round them out. Kelpie is not exception, grab a bottle before it disappears into the night.<br /><br /> </p> Tue, 25 Jul 2017 00:00:00 -0400 article6955