Snooth - Articles Read the opinions of wine professionals en-us Tue, 30 Aug 2016 23:46:32 -0400 Tue, 30 Aug 2016 23:46:32 -0400 Snooth Where to Find the Best Garnacha, Part One Snooth Editorial <p>Garnacha has arrived. Wine drinkers demand varietal Garnacha bottles and ask for the grape by name. Garnacha delivers versatility and character. Her gently styled dark fruit flavors pair with a broad range of dishes, and stand on their own. Now that we&rsquo;ve established Garnacha as a go-to grape, we turn our attention to location. Where will we find the best expressions of Garnacha? What names should we look for on the label? This three part series, published over a period of three weeks, will highlight the top five Spanish Garnacha producing regions. Each one of these Denominaci&oacute;n de Origen (DO), or wine appellations, brings a little something different to the table. Sense of place is important to every wine. Its identification brings our wine experiences to new levels. What&rsquo;s important to remember: Garnacha is indigenous to these key regions. And the key regions have brought Garnacha from overlooked blending grape to varietal bottle show-stopper.<br /> We will start with a deep look at the first one of the five, DO Cari&ntilde;ena.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>DO Cari&ntilde;ena</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Located in the Arag&oacute;n region, DO Cari&ntilde;ena has a rich winemaking history and tradition dating back centuries to the time of the Romans, when inhabitants in the town of Car&aelig; (later renamed Cari&ntilde;ena) drank wine mixed with honey before the 3rd century BC. In 1585, King Phillip II visited the town of Cari&ntilde;ena and locals filled the fountains in the town square with wine instead of water as a grand gesture. To this day there is an annual September wine festival to commemorate this historic event, and the fountains run with wine for the occasion. In 1692, Cari&ntilde;ena hosted the talks that resulted in the Statute of the Vine, an early attempt to limit production in an effort to increase quality, a practice which continues today as winemaking regions look to improve the attractiveness of their wines. During the phylloxera infestation of European vineyards, the grape growers of Cari&ntilde;ena were largely able to fight off the disastrous pest, leading many winemakers from other areas of Europe who were not so fortunate or successful to settle in the region. Cari&ntilde;ena is one of the oldest appellations in Europe to achieve protected status, having been named a DO in 1932.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> While most of the vineyards in DO Cari&ntilde;ena are now planted to Garnacha, the region does originally derive its name from the Cari&ntilde;ena (Carignan) grape that dominated early plantings. As Garnacha has proven itself to be well suited to the climate of the region, it has largely replaced the original plantings in Cari&ntilde;ena. Still, the Cari&ntilde;ena grape is used in many blends and varietal wines made in DO Cari&ntilde;ena.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> DO Cari&ntilde;enais home to temperature extremes though it is largely considered to possess a warm, continental climate. Rainfall is low as uncommon seasonal rain spreads across Ebro plain into the mountains, leading to the region being generally arid. The summers are hot during the day and cool at night due to the steady northern winds known as the cierzo that dry out humidity and allow wine grapes to develop without fear of moisture-born scourges. The varied growing conditions of DO Cari&ntilde;ena create a wide variety of microclimates in the region, providing the flexibility for a range of wine grapes to thrive, from Garnacha, Cari&ntilde;ena, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah for the reds, to Macabeo (Viura), Chardonnay, Garnacha Blanca and Moscatel for the whites.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The soil in the region is predominantly gravel with pockets of slate, hard clay and sandstone. The gravel soils are particularly well suited to the region&rsquo;s low rainfall, as it retains water well and is able to drain any excess from periodic torrential downpours.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> And how are the wines? Of course for a region with such history there is a tradition of careful and exacting winemaking, resulting in wines of excellent quality and fortunately for us, incredible value. Look for Garnacha from Cari&ntilde;ena to experience all of the soft elegance, delicate spice and zesty acidity that this region has to offer, with plenty of approachable red and black fruit flavors to please any palate.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Click here to learn more about DO Cari&ntilde;ena.</strong></a><br /><br /> &nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;<br /><br /> <strong>Garnacha Day is September 16th. Celebrate the right way! <a href="">Click here for details about our exclusive virtual tasting.</a></strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong><a href="">Photo credit: </a><a href=""><strong>Wines of Garnacha</strong></a></strong></p> Tue, 30 Aug 2016 00:00:00 -0400 article6833 Superior Red Wines for Summertime Snooth Editorial <p>White wines are a summer classic, but it has been a long summer. There is a good chance that you are surfeit with white wine by now. Ultra-hip ros&eacute; and <a href=""><strong>orange wines</strong></a> aren&rsquo;t your only options. Be a true trendsetter and cozy up with a late summer red. Summer calls for diaphanous red wine grapes that allow fresh fruits to shine without the deep, dark heaviness associated with winter wines. There will be plenty of time for cigar box notes, forest floors, and gripping tannins. Right now, in the dead of August, you&rsquo;ve got to keep things light. There are plenty of airy red wines to weather the late summer heat -- and the web&rsquo;s top wine writers have rounded them up just for you. Their suggestions are broken out by specific grapes, specific regions, and specific wines. Pro tip: Don&rsquo;t be afraid to pop one of these puppies in the fridge. Leading wine expert Jancis Robinson says you can put open bottles of white or red wine in the fridge to slow down oxidation and preserve freshness.<br /> <b><i>Summertime Red Grapes</i></b><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Cabernet Franc</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em>When it&#39;s hot out and ros&eacute; doesn&#39;t fit the bill, there&#39;s no summer red better than Cabernet Franc. This parent of Cabernet Sauvignon is lighter in body than its offspring, but still offers all the earthy, spicy flavors and tannins that red wine drinkers love. In essence, Loire Cab Francs like those from Anjou and Chinon offer the comforting red wine hug of fall with the lightness of summer, and red fruit flavors that pair beautifully with whatever is flying off the grill. Plus, they&#39;re budget friendly. My go-to is Olga Raffault Chinon, a peppery classic from the central Loire Valley that ages beautifully--I buy it anytime it&#39;s on the shelf!</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Laura Burgess</strong>, <a href=""><strong>The (Mis)Adventures of Laura. Uncorked.</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Grenache/Garnacha</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em>My favorite red wine for summer is grenache/garnacha. It is grown around the world, primarily in France, Spain, Italy, the United States, and Australia. Often used as a blending grape, it shows well on its own and is enjoyed by many because of its fruit-forwardness, lower acidity, and softer tannin. This past year, I have been exploring grenache/garnacha from various regions and at different price points and happily discovered the 2014 Madrigal Family Winery Estate Garnacha, Calistoga, Napa Valley ($50), the winery&#39;s fourth vintage of garnacha. Chris Madrigal, third-generation vintner, fell in love with Spanish varietal wines on a family trip to Spain 10 years ago and decided to plant both garnacha and tempranillo at his 40-acre estate vineyard in Calistoga. With only a fraction of an acre planted with garnacha, Madrigal currently makes only about 50 cases. However, due to its popularity, Madrigal planted more and production will increase to about 200 cases once the vines begin to produce grapes. Madrigal&#39;s 100% garnacha has medium body and tannin and spends 18 months aged in French oak, 50% new. While deceptively light in color, Madrigal&#39;s garnacha is big on fruity aromas and flavors like juicy, ripe black cherry, cranberry, raspberry, and strawberry. With mouth-warming, peppery spice and food-friendly acidity, pair this garnacha with ribs, chorizo, pork and beef barbecue, grilled and roasted meats, and a variety of cheeses.</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Elizabeth Smith</strong>, <a href=""><strong>Travel Wine Chick</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em>Summer&rsquo;s heat often makes me reach for a glass of ros&eacute; or white wine to cool down and enjoy after work. But at dinnertime I am more likely to open up a bold summer red. In warm weather, few grapes can beat grenache (garnacha in Spain). Any other avowed Francophile will agree that&nbsp; C&ocirc;tes-du-Rh&ocirc;ne is an easy call for grenache, with value wines in the under $20 range and high end bottles for the connoisseur. One of my personal favorites is actually from the Mclaren Vale in Southern Australia. Eclipse by Noon is a Grenache-shiraz-graciano blend that is big, bold, fruity perfection-&nbsp; an ideal example of the Grenache grape&rsquo;s flexibility. Often sold as a cold-weather wine due to the massive flavors, when served properly chilled (60-64 degrees Farenheit or 16-18 degrees Celsius) and decanted, this wine offers massive enjoyment and pairing for grilled meats and summer evenings</em>.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Jim van Bergen</strong>, <a href=""><strong>JvB UnCorked</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Grignolino</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em>The Grignolino grape variety makes ideal red wines for summer. It has exhilarating, pretty notes of rose hips, red currant and sour cherry with mouth-watering acidity and an overall lightness of being that is highly prized by those who love it. Its home is considered to be Monferrato Casalese DOC, in Piedmont (Piemonte), where marl/clay dominant soils typically make wines with more stuffing than their Asti versions, where the soils have more sand. I recommend serving these wines slightly chilled with a quick 15 minutes in the refrigerator. Grignolino wines are ideal with anything fatty, such as charcuterie and cheese, and as one can imagine, is a perfect picnic wine. The classic Piemontese pairing is Grignolino and Vitello Tonnato, a dish that consists of cold, thinly sliced veal with a caper and lemon mayo sauce. I highly recommend the 2014 Cantine Valpane Euli Grignolino del Monferrato Casalese DOC. The acidity is not too harsh but still crisp and refreshing, with a lovely nose of spice and the classic rose hip note. It will truly blow your mind to taste such an unknown delicate red that gives so much pleasure that you&#39;ll be wondering, &quot;Where have you been all my life?!&quot; I bet it will not only dominate your summer wine choices but you may even consider adding it to your colder weather aperitif lineup as well.</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Cathrine Todd</strong>, <a href=""><strong>Dame Wine</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>GSM Blends</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em>With each passing day bringing the end of summer ever closer, most of us are trying to grab as much outdoor fun as we can. For most people that involves cookouts, picnics or some sort of food themed festivities. Whatever you&rsquo;re eating and serving your guests, wine is only going to make the celebration more jovial. If you&rsquo;re grilling, late summer sipping is about pairing wine with burgers, flank steak, or pizzas. If on the other hand you&rsquo;re having a picnic you&rsquo;re more likely to be pairing with fried chicken, muffuletta sandwiches and hearty grain salads. In either case you&rsquo;ll want a wine that stands up to them. I look towards GSM blends because they&rsquo;re often loaded with eager and varied fruit flavors that will marry well with a smorgasbord. While GSM&rsquo;s are most synonymous with the Rhone region of France there are other countries which make notable examples, such as Australia. That said anywhere these three grapes flourish a terrifc GSM has the potential to be produced. This example from Washington State is perfect for your late summer dining pleasure. <strong>Maryhill Winery 2012 Marvell &ldquo;GSM&rdquo; ($33)</strong>: This classic blend of Syrah, (37%), Grenache (34%), and Mourvedre (29%) was produced from fruit sourced at Hattrup Farms in the Rattlesnake Hills AVA of Washington State. Violet and black plum aromas provide a welcoming entry point. Red and black raspberry and cherry flavors dominate the palate along with black pepper spice. Hints of smoked meat and a dusting of baler&rsquo;s cholate are present on the long, velvety finish. This juicy, fruity, food loving wine combines great curb appeal with more than reasonable depth and complexity to keep both casual wine drinkers and seasoned winos interested. If you&rsquo;re pouring it at a late summer blowout it&rsquo;s likely you have friends in both camps, This GSM from Maryhill will make both of those groups happy.</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Gabe Sasso</strong>, <a href=""><strong>Gabe&rsquo;s View</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Zweigelt</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em>For sure, summer sippers need not be limited to only white wine and ros&eacute;. Zweigelt, pronounced TSVYE-gelt, is a red Austrian grape that generally produces light and nimble wines with fresh fruit flavors and good acid structure. These wines are versatile on the table and great for summer sipping. If variety is the spice of life, then look no further than Lodi, California. The region&rsquo;s diversity of soil types and Mediterranean climate allows for a wide range of grape varieties, with over 75 unique wine grapes in commercial production. It should come as no surprise that one of those grapes would be Zweigelt. Hatton Daniels, a producer specializing in small production wines, sourced fruit for this wine from the famed Mokelumne Glen vineyard. This small, family-owned vineyard specializes in German and Austrian grape varieties. I have had a number of exciting wines from this site, so be sure to put this grower on your radar. As for the 2015 Hatton Daniels Zweigelt, it pours a brilliant, deep purple color with flavors redolent of sour macerated cherries, fresh blueberries, and floral perfume, accented by a dash of black pepper and cooking spice, all propped up by a pleasant zing of acidity. It is light , fun, and lean, closing with good energy and lift. Enjoy this delicious wine at cellar temperature (i.e., around 55 &deg;F). Only 72 cases of this wine were produced. Region: Lodi California. Vineyard: Mokelumne Glen Other info: SRP $24, ABV 11.9%, zero-sulfur, cork enclosure.</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Dezel Quillen</strong>, <a href=""><strong>My Vine Spot</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <b><i>Summertime Regions</i></b><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Beaujolais<em> </em>(but not Nouveau)</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em>I don&rsquo;t know about you, but when the temperature rises to near triple-digits I&rsquo;m more likely to reach for a glass of white wine or a ros&eacute; than a glass of red wine. A gin and tonic is not entirely out of the question. But, there are times during the summer months when I do get a hankering for a red wine. So, here is what I look for in a red wine to sip during the summer months. A lighter body, smooth tannins, a modest alcohol level and plenty of flavor. Smooth tannins and plenty of flavor because I like my red wine slightly chilled when the weather is hot and chilling exaggerates tannins and can mute flavors. So I choose a variety that is fruity, from a region known to produce elegant wines with silky tannins. The grape: Gamay Noir. The region: Beaujolais. The Cru: Fleurie. My current favorite is Stephane Aviron 2011 Fleurie Vieilles Vignes Domaine de la Madri&egrave;re. Light body, generous spice and fruit flavors, smooth tannins. For many years I thought I didn&#39;t like Beaujolais, because of an unfortunate Beaujolais Nouveau experience, but then I discovered Beaujolais Cru wines. That discovery has expanded my warm weather red wine options. If you haven&#39;t tried Beaujolais &mdash; you really should. There is plenty of warm weather left this summer.</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Nancy Brazil</strong>, <a href=""><strong>Pull That Cork</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em>I think Beaujolais is perfect year-round, but it&rsquo;s a super-smart choice for summer drinking. The grape used in Beaujolais is gamay, which if you age if for a few years, takes on a pinot noir quality. But upon release, Beaujolais is ready for summer!&nbsp; Morgon seems to be a familiar choice for cru Beaujolais, but for summer, step out of your comfort zone and try the softer, more floral feminine Beaujolais from Fleurie or Saint Amour. For the budget-conscious, for under $15 try Beaujolais-Villages, it&rsquo;s fresh, fun and fruity, perfect for the beach, poolside or pairing with grilled vegetables for the Labor Day end-of-summer barbecue.</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Nanette Eaton</strong>, <a href=""><strong>Wine Harlots</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>New Zealand Pinot Noir</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em>With the exception of Beaujolais, New Zealand Pinot Noir is the absolute best red wine that can be chilled to drink in the late summer. Its fruity characteristics of strawberries and raspberries are the perfect match for the warm, humid, summer air.</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Phil Kampe</strong>, <a href=""><strong>The Wine Hub</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <b><i>Summertime Wines</i></b><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Borra Vineyards Heritage 2013</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em>Before there was air conditioning or refrigeration, people drank wine. Look for a field blend to bring you a summer sipper with an historic sense of place. Field blends are wines made from a vineyard where comingled vines of different varieties act as a team to produce delicious wines in harmony with each other. They are picked and vinified together regardless of their own variety. A field blend may need several decades to coalesce. They are not common in today&rsquo;s modern age of production schedules and market driven plantings. Most exist because they are serendipitously delicious. Since they are harder to find, let me recommend the <strong>2013 Borra Vineyards Heritage</strong>, which&nbsp; is a field blend of 70% Barbera, 10% Carignane, 10% Petite Sirah and 10% Alicante Bouschet. These grapes come from 90 plus year old vines in the Mokelumne River sub AVA in Lodi. Field picked and co-fermented, this combination of grapes produces a wine of warm welcoming primary aromas with deep black spiced fruit underneath. Driven by the acidity of the Barbera, it is earthy and delicious and will stand up to many warm weather foods like barbecue or my favorite no cook summer meal: Charcuterie. The name &quot;Heritage&quot; Steve Borra told us, was inspired by his memories of his dad. Steve describes a scene of his dad who always had a dry salami hanging by a barrel in the basement. He would funnel wine from the barrel to bottle and drink deeply of his field blend. That sounds like a lovely summer sipper supper.</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Liza Swift</strong>, <a href=""><strong>Brix Chix</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Cantina di Mogoro San Bernadino Monica di Sardegna DOC</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em>The dog days of summer are upon us. As the temperature continues to hover at 100 degrees Fahrenheit it seems most wines worth considering are white or ros&eacute;. However, summer is also the cookout season and there is a bounty of red wines that pair great with summer foods to help you beat the continuous summer heat. One of my summer red wine favorites is <strong>Cantina di Mogoro San Bernadino Monica di Sardegna DOC</strong>. It is crafted of 85% Monica and 15% Bovale (aka Mourvedre); Monica is an indigenous grape to Sardegna that dates back to the days of Spanish Aragon domination in Sardegna. It is a beautiful wine in the glass, pouring a bright ruby red with intense purple highlights. It opens with a rustic racking off aroma quickly giving way to dried red fruits along with fresh blue berries and plums, notes of fresh cut violets and baking spice highlighted by nutmeg, and lightly roasted hazelnuts. The versatility of this wine reveals itself on the palate; fresh, yet complex with layers of flavors evolving as they move across the palate. Bright acidity is balanced with well-structured, integrated tannins; medium in body with a long, pleasant finish. Cantina di Mogoro&rsquo;s San Bernadino pairs with a wide variety of summer cuisines such as seafood and shellfish (common pairings with Monica in Sardegna), grilled meats such as chicken, pork and a lean fillet, as well as perfect for hamburgers, hot dogs, and summer salads. Additionally, its 13% ABV does not weight you down. Give this wine a little chill for optimum enjoyment with your summer cuisine. Furthermore, as summer moves into fall San Bernardino is a perfect transition wine. The grape Monica is lacking in weight and texture so Cantina di Mogoro does two things to assist Monica: first, they blend it with Bovale, adding weight and tannins; second, though 90% of the wine is aged in stainless steel, they age 10% of this wine in chestnut barrels. The chestnut barrels add a touch of roasted nut flavor increasing its food pairings to include pastas with red sauces, pizza, and a variety of braised and grilled meats. So pick up a bottle and let me know what you think.</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Michelle Williams</strong>, <a href=""><strong>Rockin Red Blog</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Division Winemaking Company Gamay Noir &quot;Les Petits Fers&quot; 2015</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em>I love sipping on some slightly chilled Gamay reds during the dog days of summer. While my favorite Gamays come from the Crus of Beaujolais, Oregon is home to America&#39;s most promising iterations of this bright, red-fruited, refreshing red wine. Division Winemaking Company&#39;s 2015 Gamay Noir &quot;Les Petits Fers&quot; is exactly what I look for in a summer sipping red wine: light tannins, lip-smacking acidity, bright red fruit. This wine also boasts complex elements of earth, mineral, baking spices and flowers. When served slightly chilled, this is absolutely delicious and, at about $25, worth every penny.</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Isaac James Baker, <a href=""><strong>Reading, Writing &amp; Wine</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Domaine Cheveau &ldquo;Les Champs Grill&eacute;s&rdquo; Saint-Amour 2012</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em>It&rsquo;s still hot. No, it&rsquo;s still sultry, the heat a murky pall over the land. I want a red wine with cut-crystal clarity. A red wine that can take a chill. A red wine right for salad. I want Gamay. The grape&rsquo;s levity keeps it refreshing, while its berry and spice notes keep it interesting. Let&rsquo;s go with one from Saint-Amour, the northernmost Cru of Beaujolais. I recently opened the <strong>2012 Domaine Cheveau &ldquo;Les Champs Grill&eacute;s&rdquo; Saint-Amour</strong> (yes, &ldquo;grilled countryside&rdquo;&mdash;it seemed right for the moment). It was peppery with a ruby-grapefruit kick, like the spritz of the peel squeezed into the juice of the flesh. Its garnet-hued robe had a lilting berry sweetness offset by trenchant acidity. Refreshing! Only a few hundred cases of that particular wine make it to U.S. shores, so look for other options from this Cru. By the way, Saint-Amour is also known as The Romantic Cru (amour&mdash;get it?), so you might want to pick up an extra bottle now for Valentine&rsquo;s Day. Because February&rsquo;s just around the corner.</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Meg Houston Maker</strong>, <a href=""><strong>Maker&#39;s Table</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Domaine Grosbois Clos du Noyer 2012</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em>While I appreciate crisp, refreshing ros&eacute;s and light whites to pair with the heat and intense humidity of Virginia summers, light to medium-bodied red wines made from Cabernet Franc are my go to wines to pair with grilled meats.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The distinctive cabernet francs from producers like Domaine Grosbois in the Chinon region of France&rsquo;s Loire Valley are my favorite red wines, especially for summer evening cookouts.</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em>Domaine Grosbois has been family owned since 1820.&nbsp; Today, proprietor and winemaker Nicolas Grosbois organically farms 22 acres of vineyards, divided into 13 different plots.&nbsp; Grosbois makes seven distinctive, site-driven wines from these plots of Cabernet Franc.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The thought-provoking Clos du Noyer is one of my favorites from Nicolas Grosbois.&nbsp; Made from 40 year-old vines grown in clay and limestone, Grosbois fermented this wine in open cement vats.&nbsp; The 2012 is elegant, layered and beautiful; medium-bodied; ruby color in the glass; opened with aromas of Brett that disappeared quickly, followed by cherry, spice, and black tea with flavors of violet, black cherry, red currents around earthy minerality.&nbsp; Even better paired with rare grilled lamb chops and a mild summer evening with friends.</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Frank Morgan</strong>, <a href=""><strong>Drink What YOU Like</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Donnafugata Sherazade Nero d&#39;Avola 2015</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em>As we approach the end of summer and shift our wine desires to more reds and fuller bodied reds at that, there is still plenty of time to be considering and drinking red wine in the summer months. It&#39;s not all about whites and rose&#39; all the time. The renowned Donnafugata winery of Sicily has their first release of a 2015 Sherazade Nero d&#39;Avola to the United States and I was fortunate to get to sample this wine in time to share with everyone. Nero d&#39;Avola, the indigenous grape of Sicily, is a perfect accompaniment to summer fare with the Sherazade. Ruby red with a beautiful bouquet combined with fresh and fruity notes of strawberries and cherries with an added dash of pepper. Overall a smooth wine with gentle tannins. There is no wonder that the wines of Sicily are some of the hottest wines on the Italian wine scene right now and there is plenty of variety for everyone to enjoy.</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Jennifer Martin</strong>, <a href=""><strong>Vino Travels</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Heitz Cellar Napa Valley Grignolino</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em>Oh how I enjoy a chillable red wine! Especially during the summer when the grilling of meats takes center stage, and I seek a heartier alternative to a light bodied ros&eacute;.&nbsp; For a few years now, one of my favorites has been the <strong>Heitz Cellar Napa Valley Grignolino</strong>.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Grignolino (pronounced &ldquo;Green-o-lean-o&rdquo;) is an indigenous grape from the Piedmont region in Northern Italy. Though it&rsquo;s considered a minor grape in Italy, there are two DOCs devoted to the grape. Outside of Italy there are only a handful of Grignolino vines.&nbsp; One of those places is the Napa Valley.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> I was acquainted with the grape while tasting at Heitz Cellar, an iconic Napa Valley winery renowned for its world-class Cabernet Sauvignon.&nbsp; When the Heitz family purchased their first 8-acre vineyard in 1961, it was mostly planted to Grignolino. Rather than replant to the imminently more profitable Cabernet Sauvignon, the Heitz&rsquo; decided to keep the variety alive. Heitz crafts both ros&eacute; and red wine from the grape.&nbsp; The red is a fun, and charming wine that shows a delightful light-bodied strawberry, floral character with lively acidity that is accented by a hint of orange rind and nuanced minerality. Pair this vivacious chillable red wine with charcuterie, grilled meats, or pizza. It&rsquo;s a great picnic wine! <strong>(12.5% abv SRP - $22.)</strong></em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Martin Redmond</strong>, <a href=""><strong>ENOFYLZ Wine Blog</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Jeremy Wine Co. Sangiovese 2013</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em>Hot out? Still want wine? Then think wine regions with warm weather as inspiration for summer reds. Try grapes like Nebbiolo, Grenache (Garnacha), Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, and Tempranillo - all are classics, especially if you&#39;re enjoying grilled meals, as I often do in the summer. Chill the reds to tone them down and add a bit of refreshing coolness. A good area to look at domestically is Lodi, with a wine like the 2013 Sangiovese from Jeremy Wine Co as one to search out.</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Kovas Palubinskas</strong>, <a href=""><strong>50 States of Wine</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Liparita V Block from Yountville 2013</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em>When I think of summer reds, I usually think of Southern Rh&ocirc;ne. Grenache, Mourvedre, and Cinsault never disappoint with fresh acid and lively fruit. But the question posed was not about our &quot;go-to&quot; reds but more superlative in nature. What is the biggest red wine still suitable for summer? When I think in those terms, I think of pairing with a grilled steak and air conditioning, both staples in the Texas heat. I think of Cabernet Sauvignon, which in turn leads to Napa Valley. Earlier this summer I sampled a few Napa Cabs; some monsters made me wish I&#39;d held on until the weather changed. The 2013 Liparita V Block from Yountville, however, worked without requiring a lower thermostat. Bold yet balanced, youthful enough to maintain fresh fruit. It begins with a burst of blackberries and opens into anise, structured with smooth tannins. This wine would pair well with BBQ ribs or grilled ribeye, flip-flops or a more formal affair.</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Alissa Leenher</strong>, <a href=""><strong>Sahmmelier Wine Blog</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Two Shepherds Carignan 2014</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em>When I saw the summer red assignment, I immediately thought of Two Shepherds 2014 Carignan from the ancient vine, Bechthold Vineyard.&nbsp; While it is billed as a Rhone variety, it has a similarity to a Cru Beaujolais, making it a light, fruity and low in alcohol wine with red juicy fruit, hints of roses and a little spice.&nbsp; It is new with very limited availability (only 35 cases from the oldest surviving Cinsault vineyard in the world).<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Throw in the fact that this &ldquo;one-man micro winery&rdquo; is passion of William Allen, a former wine writer, blogger and garagiste for years before moving into commercial production in 2010, and you have an even better story.</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Melanie Ofenloch</strong>, <a href=""><strong>Dallas Wine Chick</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Troon Vineyard Zinfandel 2013</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em>Rain, snow or sizzling summer sunshine, we grill year-round.&nbsp; Savoring the flavor that only a flaming grill can draw from a myriad of meats and vegetables (and all sorts of pizzas) is simply something that the palate consistently craves. Admittedly, we take advantage of the Willamette Valley&#39;s sensational summer months, and we happily grill nearly every day. We love to pair a variety of white wine with a variety of grilled pizzas that have olive oil-based sauces - piling them high with vegetables, and oftentimes, loading them up with juicy summer fruits. But when grilling pizzas with a red sauce, or meats that are slathered in one of our many house-created BBQ sauces, we ultimately enjoy pacifying our palates with a red wine - and we reach for zippy, zesty Zinfandels. We recently pulled the cork on a 2013 vintage Zinfandel from <a href=""><strong>Troon Vineyard</strong></a> and paired it with our fresh-off-the-grill baby back pork ribs that were doused in our very own sweet-n-spicy BBQ sauce. With essential ingredients such as sweet chili sauce, ketchup, brown sugar and copious amounts of ginger, the Zinfandel&#39;s firm tannins, bright acidity and lush full body stood up perfectly to the sassy sauce. Aromas and flavors of fresh raspberry, blackberry, cherry and plum were highlighted by alluring zesty fall spices and black peppercorns - balancing the wine (and the sauce) to perfection. Zinfandel has always been the focus at Troon Vineyard, located in Southern Oregon&#39;s Applegate Valley AVA.&nbsp; Founder and previous owner, Dick Troon, seemed to have an eye for the future of wine in southern Oregon as he planted Zinfandel vines back in 1972 - Oregon&#39;s wine industry was just beginning to take shape. Read about more Troon Vineyard on <a href=""><strong></strong></a>.</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Julia Crowley</strong>, <a href=""><strong>The Real Wine Julia</strong></a></p> Fri, 19 Aug 2016 00:00:00 -0400 article6832 Value Wines for Summer Gabe Sasso <p>August is here -- along with warm, steamy weather for most of the country. For some that means switching over to chilled cocktails or beer. What it should really mean for wine drinkers is carefully selecting wines that are well made, delicious, value driven and refreshing. The last thing anyone wants to sip in hot weather is a big, bloated and ponderous wine. Crisp acid along with juicy, thirst quenching flavors are what you should be aiming for.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> With all of that in mind I tasted through dozens of wines in different settings recently. Through it all I was looking for selections that had the qualities I desire in my summer wines. There&rsquo;s nothing wrong with a summer sipper or porch pounder on occasion, but those get boring pretty quickly. Most of the time I need a bit more than that to keep my tongue and my brain more engaged. From all of that tasting I culled the &ldquo;sweet 16&rdquo; below for your enjoyment, cheers!<br /><br /> <br /> There&rsquo;s no need to settle for overly simple wines, there are plenty of choices out there that combine all of the above qualities with a level of complexity and sophistication to keep savvy wine drinkers engaged and coming back for more. Desiring a wine that&rsquo;s refreshing doesn&rsquo;t mean you have to stick to white, though there are plenty that fit the bill. Ros&eacute; can provide the best qualities of both red and white grapes, so often they&rsquo;re the perfect choice. While it&rsquo;s certainly best to drink less red in the heat, there&rsquo;s no reason to avoid them altogether. Fruit driven expressions that aren&rsquo;t overly burdened with oak work well. Those selections often benefit when you throw them in the refrigerator for 20 minutes or so to give them a little bit of a chill.<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>White Knight 2014 Viognier</strong></a> ($12)</div><br /> <div><br /> In addition to Viognier (87%), small amounts of French Colombard (9%), and Muscat (4%) were included in the blend. All of the fruit is from Clarksburg, California. White peach aromas light up the nose. The palate is stuffed with a bevy of fresh and dried apricot flavors as well as hints of cr&egrave;me fraiche. Mesquite honey and a touch of toasted almond emerge on the mellifluous finish.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Villa Gemma 2014 Cerasuolo d&rsquo;Abruzzo DOC</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> I recently spent the better part of a week in Abruzzo Italy at Masciarelli. Their beautiful portfolio of wines includes this incredibly proportionate white blend which I enjoyed numerous times during my stay. Three indigenous varieties (Trebbiano, Cococciola and Pecorino) are blended together to create this wine. The nose shows off white flowers and yellow fruits. Loads of fresh fruit flavors dominate the palate with golden delicious apple, pear and banana all playing a role. Minerals and spice dominate the long finish. Whether by itself or paired with cheeses or light foods this is an outrageously good value.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Basile Arteteca 2014</strong></a> ($17)</div><br /> <div><br /> Artetca is a blend of Vermentino, Viognier and Petit Manseng. Yellow melon aromas are tinged by bits of thyme. Lemon zest, hazelnut and peach are present on the succulent palate. Sour yellow fruits, spice notes and a hint of tangerine rind emerge on the crisp, clean finish.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Masottina Prosecco Treviso Brut DOC</strong></a> ($17)</div><br /> <div><br /> This Prosecco is entirely Glera from the province of Treviso in the Veneto. After fermentation and tank aging it spends a month in bottle prior to release. The nose is a m&eacute;lange of citrus and orchard fruits with bits of savory herbs present as well. Ripe, juicy citrus and fleshy yellow fruit flavors are evident on the generous palate. The clean, crisp finish is above average in length. Sparkling wine makes most reasonable people happy, here&rsquo;s a well-priced example for summer enjoyment.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Domaine Vincent Car&ecirc;me 2014 Vouvray Spring</strong></a>&nbsp;($19.99)</div><br /> <div><br /> All of the fruit for this wine (100% Chenin Blanc) came from the Loire Valley. Orchard fruit aromas are joined by hints of orange zest. Anjou pear and white peach dominate the palate. Copious spice and mineral notes mark the long, refreshing finish.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Anaba 2013 Viognier</strong></a> ($28)</div><br /> <div><br /> All of the fruit for this Viognier came from the Landa Vineyard in Sonoma Valley. Lemon ice and apricot aromas light up the nose here. The palate is stuffed with tempting and even keeled yellow fruit flavors. Stone fruits, minerals, spice and a tiny hint of mesquite honey mark the long, lovely finish. This is a well-balanced and remarkably delicious example of Viognier. You may want to chill two bottles.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Masciarelli 2014 Rosato Colline Teatine IGT</strong></a> ($12)</div><br /> <div><br /> This Italian Ros&egrave; from Abruzzo was produced entirely from Montepulciano d&rsquo;Abruzzo. Masciarelli has been producing this offering since 1981. This is intentionally made Ros&eacute; produced from dedicated fruit. It has a beautiful ripe strawberry hue. Somewhat intense aromas of red fruit jump from the nose. Red cherry, strawberry and gentle hints of plum dominate the palate. All of these elements continue on the crisp, refreshing and lip-smacking finish. This wine draws you in for sip after sip with its incredibly appealing aromas and flavors.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Chronic Cellars 2015 Pink Pedals Ros&eacute;</strong></a> ($14.99)</div><br /> <div><br /> This Ros&eacute; is made from Grenache (89%) and Syrah (11%) from Paso Robles. Candied cherry and watermelon aromas jump with conviction from the nose of this incredibly accessible and food friendly Ros&eacute;. A tasty m&eacute;lange of red berry flavors is evident through the palate along with a nice complement of spices. Continuing juicy red fruit flavors are in play on the succulent finish.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Hacienda de AR&Iacute;NZANO 2015 Ros&eacute;</strong></a> ($19.99)</div><br /> <div><br /> This offering is entirely Tempranillo. All of the fruit is from the D.O. Pago de Ar&iacute;nzano. This is an intentional ros&eacute; and the fruit was grown, harvested and fermented specifically for this wine. The color is a striking light salmon. Red fruit aromas mark the nose and continue on the palate where wild strawberry and Bing cherry are joined by a hint of tangerine zest and spice. The finish is long and lingering with red fruit flavors and spice continuing. This fresh and balanced wine is best served a couple of degrees warmer than the average Ros&eacute; allowing its complexity and elegance to fully emerge. This is a particularly exceptional value.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Martin Ray 2015 Ros&eacute; of Pinot Noir</strong></a> ($20)</div><br /> <div><br /> This Ros&eacute;, produced using the saignee method, is entirely Russian River Valley Pinot Noir. Ripe strawberry aromas are tinged by wisps of sage. Bing cherry, tangerine zest and a wallop of watermelon flavors fill the juicy palate. Bits of savory herbs, white pepper and continued red fruits emerge on the mouthwatering finish. Serve this one ice cold.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Vista Hills 2012 Treehouse Orange Wine</strong></a> ($20)</div><br /> <div><br /> This wine was made entirely from skin fermented Pinot Gris grown on their LIVE certified sustainable Estate Vineyard in Willamette Valley Oregon. Being skin fermented it&rsquo;s bigger than your average Ros&eacute; and it shows off terrific structure. Orange and tangerine zest aromas are at play alongside red fruits. The palate is stuffed with red apple, pomegranate and sour cherry. The finish has oodles of depth and precision. You&rsquo;ll be thinking about this wine long after the final sip has disappeared.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Clif Family Winery 2015 Ros&eacute; of Grenache </strong></a>($24)</div><br /> <div><br /> Clif Family&rsquo;s Ros&eacute; is composed entirely of Grenache sourced in Mendocino County. It has a gorgeous light pink color. The friendly nose shows of juicy red fruit aromas. Citrus notes, orchard fruit and strawberry flavors all play a role on the palate. The long and persistent finish is spicy, clean and refreshing.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Vento DiMare 2013 Nero D&rsquo;avola</strong></a> ($12)&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> This wine is 100% Nero D&rsquo;avola from Sicily. candied black cherry aromas are joined by subtle tar on the nose. Red fruits tinged with black are evident throughout the palate which counter balances dark fruit flavors and a medium weight. Sour black cherry, wisps of earth and spice notes are present on the finish. This versatile wine will work equally well with pizza, burgers or taco Tuesday.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Domaine du Th&eacute;ron Cuv&eacute;e Prestige Malbec</strong></a> ($18)</div><br /> <div><br /> While Argentine Malbec may be more familiar, France is its birthplace. This wine is entirely Malbec from the Cahors region. Aging occurs over a year in 33% new French oak. It&rsquo;s dark and inky in color. Blackberry, raspberry and plum pudding spice aromas are prominent. There&rsquo;s a heft and fullness to the palate but it never strays over the top. Dark fruit flavors rule the day and lead to the earthy, layered finish. If you&rsquo;re grilling red meat this summer, here&rsquo;s your wine.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Pike Road 2014 Pinot Noir</strong></a> ($19)</div><br /> <div><br /> All of the fruit (100% Pinot Noir) is from Willamette Valley. &nbsp;For the price point this wine does an excellent job representing Willamette Valley Pinot Noir. Red and black fruit aromas are followed by bits of black tea and cherry on the palate. Copious spices, earth and cranberry are present on the finish. Pinot Noir with good varietal typicity is hard to find under $20, count this one among their small number.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Mullan Road Cellars&rsquo; Red Wine Blend</strong></a> ($42)</div><br /> <div><br /> This red blend was produced from fruit sourced in Washington State&rsquo;s Columbia Valley. This fruit forward red blend shows off bold, ripe strawberry aromas. The palate is stuffed with cranberries, blackberry, and wisps of cinnamon. Pomegranate and black pepper spice round out the finish. &nbsp;This will pair well with grilled meats in particular.</div><br /> </p> Fri, 05 Aug 2016 00:00:00 -0400 article6829 Underrated Wines: Soave John Downes <p>I run the wine courses at one of the UK&rsquo;s leading culinary academies and recently let slip to the chefs that I&rsquo;d matched a herb crusted trout recipe with Soave in a recent magazine article. Their pan faces and deafening silence said it all! To be honest, I wasn&rsquo;t surprised as this dry Italian doesn&rsquo;t have a very good image on English wine shelves. I replied with my usual &ldquo;PTEQ&rdquo; (&lsquo;Pay The Extra Quid&rsquo;) and after that they were open to offers but it was a hard sell. Their description of Soave as a &ldquo;light, neutral, simple, boring&rdquo; white was evidently etched on their Italian wine memories.&nbsp;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> I was recently at the 2015 Vintage Preview tasting in Soave, the cobbled, castle-topped town a swift 30 kilometres from Verona in the Venetian hills, and tasted dozens of 2015 Soaves. The chefs&rsquo; tasting note often came to mind as some of the wines were light, neutral and frankly disappointing but, on the other hand, there were some lovely fresh, fruit balanced crackers. OK, these were not cheap but were well worth paying the extra dollar or two for; producers Pieropan, Gini and Stefanini took my eye during my Soave Soiree.&nbsp;</div><br /> <br /> The Soave hills are stunning, rising majestically from the vineyard plains their contours are dramatically defined by high pergolas, the vine training system of choice for the Soave winemakers. Some vineyards have lower trained vines (guyot) but pergolas dominate the scene, &ldquo;pergolas are better for Garganega, the star grape variety of Soave&rdquo;, is the message. Soave is often 100% Gargenega but Italian law does allow for 30% of other varieties, namely Trebbiano di Soave, Chardonnay and Pinot Bianco, although it&rsquo;s Trebbiano that&rsquo;s generally the blenders&rsquo; choice. &nbsp;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The region covers about 7000 hectares and for dry white wine is divided into the Soave D.O.C. (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) vineyards, Soave Classico D.O.C. which are vineyards in the hilly heart of the region and, Soave Superiore D.O.C.G vineyards which are &lsquo;superior&rsquo; high altitude vineyards. If the Superiore vineyard lies within the Classico area, the wine logically takes on the title Soave Superiore Classico D.O.C.G &hellip;. are you still with me? The Italians don&rsquo;t make it easy but as you can guess, the better the vineyard, the better the grapes, the better the wine; PTEQ &nbsp;(&lsquo;Pay The Extra Quid&rsquo;)&nbsp;&nbsp;and all that, or for my US readers, PTED!</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The Soave winemakers are very proud of their soils, the two main types being limestone and volcanic basalt. If you mention volcanic rock to them their faces light up; they can talk for hours on the subject so be warned!</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The Top Johnny Superiore wines are governed by the D.O.C.G. laws which include 6 months minimum ageing, 12% minimum alcohol by volume and a maximum grape yield of 70 hectolitres per hectare (hl/ha). For my anorak readers, Soave Classico D.O.C. needs 4 months ageing, 11% alcohol and a maximum yield of 98 hl/ha. whilst Soave D.O.C. requires 2 months ageing, 10.5% alcohol with a maximum yield of 105 hl/ha. &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> After tasting Soave for two days the yield specifications took on a new significance; &lsquo;imho&rsquo; here lies the soul of Soave&rsquo;s image problem. These yield allowances are high. As you can guess, the higher the grape yield from a single hectare, the less concentration in the grapes and therefore in the wine. Bet your bottom dollar, most of the light, neutral wines etched on the chefs&rsquo; memories would, in all probability, have been made from high yield grapes. These wines do this proud region of Soave no favours at all. Within the 2015 Tasting Preview Soave&rsquo;s potential was plain to see; it wasn&rsquo;t surprising that the best wines I tasted in all the D.O.C./D.O.C.G. categories were generally made from lower vineyard yields.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Pieropan&rsquo;s Soave Classico 2014, is made from hand picked, low yield Gargenaga (85%) and Trebbiano di Soave (15%) grown on volcanic soils at about 250 metres above sea level in the Classico region on pergola and guyot trained vines; it&rsquo;s fresh and lively with bright citrus aromas and flavours. Monte Tondo&rsquo;s lemon lime Soave Superiore Classico Marta DOCG 2012 (&pound;20, $30) was picked at 45 hl/ha. as opposed to the maximum allowed of 70 hl/ha. on their high altitude basalt volcanic soils. I rest my case.</div><br /> </p> Thu, 04 Aug 2016 00:00:00 -0400 article6828 All About Wine, Vine by Vine Snooth Editorial <p>What are the secrets of a winemaker with over one hundred 90+ point wines across decades, appellations, and grapes? Perhaps it&rsquo;s like any top chef: Add a pinch of this, a dash of that, and voila &ndash; you&rsquo;ve got an award winning product. But decorated Murrieta&rsquo;s Well winemaker Robbie Meyer doesn&rsquo;t believe in recipes. Rather, he brings an intuitive connection with nature, keen attention to detail, and a certain je ne sais quoi to his work. The left brain and right brain perform a perfect dance in bottle. In the audience of some of the web&rsquo;s top writers, Snooth sat down with Robbie to talk about his latest works from acclaimed Livermore Valley estate, Murrieta&rsquo;s Well. Read on to learn more about Robbie&rsquo;s approach at Murrieta&rsquo;s Well. But please, don&rsquo;t limit yourself to our reporting. <a href=""><strong>You can view the full tasting here</strong></a>.&nbsp;<br /> Robbie&rsquo;s journey to Murrieta&rsquo;s Well (named for California goal rush miner Joaquin Murrieta, the first to discover the property) starts with California winemaking pioneer Louis Mel. In 1884, armed with cuttings from Chateau d&rsquo;Yquem and Chateau Margaux, Louis Mel began planting vines on the Livermore plot that is now Murrieta&rsquo;s Well. The vestiges of those first plantings still exist on the property today. In fact, Murrieta&rsquo;s Well is one of California&rsquo;s original wine estates. Louis Mel sold the property to Livermore Valley&rsquo;s own Wente family in 1933. The Murrieta&rsquo;s Well label has grown a strong fan base over the past several decades. Two years ago, the Wente family decided to recruit a true advocate for Murrieta&rsquo;s Well -- someone to help carve out the label&rsquo;s identity as a purveyor of high quality, small lot wines. Given his past successes in neighboring regions like Napa and Sonoma, they knew winemaker Robbie Meyer (nineteen vintages and counting) would be a perfect choice. Bringing refined skill and intuition to his practice, Robbie has intimately acquainted himself with each and every vineyard parcel at Murrieta&rsquo;s Well. Acre by acre, block by block, Robbie is acutely aware of the nuances of each plant. No microclimate, aspect, soil or root goes unnoticed. His output is completely vintage dependent; there is no case goal when it comes to winemaking at Murrieta&rsquo;s Well. You&rsquo;ll regularly find Robbie in the vineyards managing every vine based on its individual needs. Each vine is planted exactly where it demands, creating a patchwork of grapes across the grounds. Strategic harvesting is always part of the plan.<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Four of Robbie&rsquo;s wines were tasted during the virtual event. &nbsp;Following are details about each wine and some anecdotes from Robbie. But better yet, <a href=""><strong>go to the tape</strong></a>!&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Murrieta&rsquo;s Well Small Lot Chardonnay Livermore Valley 2014</strong></a><br /><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em><strong>This is a tasting room exclusive.</strong> Plan your visit now -- the historic tasting room just reopened after a period of renovation</em>. Robbie says: When it comes to white winemaking, you have just one chance to get perfect juice. The pressing must be gentle lest the wine be overly bitter and astringent. Perfect press is evidenced in this Small Lot Chardonnay. &nbsp;Indigenous yeast &nbsp;populations battled for supremacy during fermentation, with one just one rising to complete domination. As such, these small lot treats will have their own flair each year. The vines are own-rooted (not from rootstock), and Robbie employs many different oak influences from various cooperages so that no single influence will reign supreme. Try pairing with Halibut.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Murrieta&rsquo;s Well The Whip White Wine Blend Livermore Valley 2014&nbsp;</strong></a><br /><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>This is available in retailers nationwide at an incredible value.</strong> The Whip uses cultured yeasts rather than indigenous (as used in the Small Lot Chardonnay.) This is a strategic choice that allows each varietal in the blend to have a voice. Heady aromatics, as Robbie calls them, are achieved through Viognier, Muscat Canelli, and Muscat. Weight, texture, and depth are made possible by Semillon and Chardonnay. Sauvignon Blanc is the structural beam of acidity. Each varietal is cultivated to be its very best self. Blending begins only after fermentation is complete and each varietal has reached its full expression. The Whip is a survey of the five hundred acre Murrieta&rsquo;s Well property, highlighting what is possible from a full array of varietals. Try it with Thai food, spicy Asian dishes, or vegetables on the grill.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Murrieta&rsquo;s Well Small Lot Cabernet Livermore Valley 2013</strong></a><br /><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>Another tasting room exclusive.</strong> Livermore Valley brings California swagger to Bordeaux varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon. Due to the east-west wine influences over the valley, Livermore is cooler than its neighbors. Meanwhile it still reaches optimal levels of heat and sun exposure. This results in beautiful whole red berries that do not over-express their fruit flavors. These grapes do not get painfully ripe. Robbie can open up the vine canopies a bit more in Livermore because the grapes are not as susceptible to burn. This is not true in nearby regions. The result is simply elegant Cabernet with distinct black olive and dark chocolate notes. Think beyond grilled steaks when you pair this Cabernet. It is delicate enough to pair with more tender meats, like lamb.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Murrieta&rsquo;s Well The Spur Red Wine Blend Livermore Valley 2013</strong></a><br /><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> While the varietal mix changes from year to year, Petite Sirah has been The Spur&rsquo;s signature. It&rsquo;s a grape with a great affinity for the Livermore Valley. Older plantings of the grape at Murrieta&rsquo;s Well give The Spur a luscious and vibrant expression of fruit flavors. Petite Sirah can be rough around the edges, so complementary grapes like Cabernet and Merlot give the blend some finesse. When it comes to blends, Robbie is not married percentages. It&rsquo;s all about style. This year, The Spur brings delightfully smooth chocolate expressions with a delicious spice. And as Robbie says, pairing is personal: Go with your gut! These elegantly ripened red varietals allow you to think outside of the grilled meat-only box.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Now, sit down with a glass and watch the full interview!&nbsp;</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em>Photo credit: </em><a href=""><strong>Murrieta&rsquo;s Well</strong></a></div><br /> </p> Tue, 02 Aug 2016 00:00:00 -0400 article6826 Vineyard Most Wanted Nova McCune Cadamatre <p>There are a number of different pests and diseases that affect vineyards worldwide and each presents a different challenge depending on the climate and growing practices of that region. These viticultural criminals that affect grapevines come in several different forms including insects, bacteria, viruses, and fungi. To be considered a &ldquo;most wanted&rdquo; suspect they must have the potential to inflict severe economic impact on the industry in that particular region. The list below is by no means an exhaustive list however it does cover the top suspects. &nbsp;<br /> Phylloxera, a root louse, native to North America, is one of the major pests affecting vineyards world wide. &nbsp;If left unchecked it will feed on the roots to cause severe nutrient deficiencies which will affect the photosynthetic ability of the plant leading to stunted growth, and slowed ripening eventually killing the vine. &nbsp;Phylloxera currently affects Europe, North America, Most of South America, New Zealand and large parts of Australia. &nbsp;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> There are few treatments available to kill the root louse once it has been introduced and the best protection is to use a resistant rootstock that can withstand the damage caused by the louse&rsquo;s feeding such as 3309 or SO4. &nbsp;Fumigants such as Methyl Bromide were once used after the affected vines had been pulled out but now it is not always allowed by law and should not be taken lightly as it is extremely devastating to all soil life. The proven way to protect a vineyard, long term, from Phylloxera once it is found is by using rootstocks that are resistant to the pest when the vineyard is replanted. &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The European Grapevine Moth has been a common nuisance for European growers for centuries however for the new world it is a new threat that has just been discovered. The moth has three mating flights per season during which they will lay eggs in the clusters of grapevines. Symptoms of the infestation include webbing and orange headed larve present in the clusters. The third flight is typically the most damaging to vineyards as the larva will puncture the softening fruit to feed. This leaves the vine susceptible to secondary disease infections such as Botrytis which can cause color instability in the wine and Acetobacter which increases the level of volatile acidity in the fruit pre-fermentation.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The European grapevine moth can be treated with several different methods. &nbsp;Vineyards in Europe, use Pheromone capsules to disrupt the mating of the moths however both newly affected Chile and California have put in place aggressive plans to eradicate the moth completely. &nbsp;California&rsquo;s five year plan which began in 2010 included state-wide coordinated sprays with the pesticides Intrepid, Altecor, and Movento as well as Pheromone sprays. &nbsp;According to Greg Clark of the Napa Valley Register, no moths were caught in 2014 and 2015 making this &ldquo;one of the most successful eradication efforts of an agricultural pest in California history&rdquo;. &nbsp;This shows positive progress in the fight to eradicate the European Grapevine Moth from the New World.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Meanwhile Bordeaux is dealing with a crisis of its own in the Flavescence dor&eacute;e. &nbsp;Originally uncovered in the prestigious growing area of the Medoc, the Flavescence is a bacterial agent called <em>Candidatus Phytoplasma</em> vitis that has become problematic due to the importation of the <em>Scaphoideus titanus</em> leafhopper species from North America. The disease shows first symptoms through stunted growth, yellowing leaves, black pustules and inhibited lignification. The second season, the symptoms are more pronounced and can shrivel grape clusters after which the vine declines rapidly. &nbsp;If not rapidly eliminated, this disease could be as devastating to Bordeaux as Phylloxera was due to its ability to kill a vine within 3 years of infection. &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The most effective method of controlling the Flavescence is through controlling the spread of the vector. &nbsp;Currently Pheromone capsules can be used to disrupt the mating of the Leafhopper and rapidly removing any vines that seem to be showing infection helps reduce source plants. &nbsp;For the <em>Vitis </em>grape species it is not curable once it is systemic in the vine and the best protection is to remove affected material quickly and prevent the importation of infected vines or the leafhopper from affected regions. The producers and growers of Bordeaux are working closely together to attack this issue immediately as this disease could be catastrophic. &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Another problematic disease currently affecting Europe is Esca. &nbsp;This disease is the thought to be caused by a number of trunk diseases which causes stunted growth, discoloration of leaves and fruit, reduced yields, disrupted photosynthesis and in more severe cases total die off of the entire vine. &nbsp;It is best known for a Tiger strip necrosis pattern on the leaves of affected vines. &nbsp;Italy has had a particularly difficult time with the widespread infections. &nbsp;Esca is not always catastrophic and the range of severity varies from region to region. Growers can find it difficult to maintain profitable yields when dealing with the disease. &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Once Esca has entered a vine it can not be cured so removal is the best treatment. &nbsp;In the Piedmont wineries are combatting it through the removal of infected vines to reduce the spread of the infection. Esca can be controlled through the protection of pruning wounds and through hot water treatment of nursery stock to prevent spreading. &nbsp;Esca can be very mild to deadly and it is important for vine growers to keep a vigilant eye for symptoms of the disease as early detection is critical.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> There are several types of viruses that affect grapevines worldwide. &nbsp;Leaf roll and Fan Leaf are the two most ubiquitous viruses and affect vineyards in Europe and across the new world. &nbsp;Both cause deformation of the leaves of the vine and severely reduced yields although the viruses themselves rarely lead to vine death. &nbsp;Leaf roll virus can be vectored by the grapevine mealybug or certain scale species and Fan Leaf virus is vectored by the dagger nematode, Xiphinema index. &nbsp;Both viruses can be spread more widely by infected nursery stock. &nbsp;Dr. Peter Cousins of the USDA works to breed nematode resistant rootstocks that will protect the vines from the spread of viruses as an infection can cause a major decrease in yields and profitability for farmers. &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The control of these diseases is closely linked with control of the vectors. &nbsp;For Leaf roll viruses, controlling the population of grapevine mealybugs is very important. &nbsp;Some vineyards in Napa Valley have taken to using dogs to sniff out the insects during the dormant period and treating affected vineyards with insecticides such as Movento or Applaud. &nbsp;For Fan Leaf virus, it is important to make sure during the planting preparation that the manager has chosen a rootstock that is resistant to the dagger nematode species found in the individual country because resistance varies from rootstock to rootstock depending on the country. &nbsp;For South African X. index, the rootstocks Freedom and Harmony were found to have the best resistance to the nematode. &nbsp;For vines already infected with a virus, quick removal is the best option to minimize the spread.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> More widespread perennial issues include fungal diseases such as Botrytis, Powdery Mildew, and Odium (Downy Mildew) which affect growers in most major vine growing regions. &nbsp;These diseases can cause problems with fruit set, photosynthesis as well as fruit ripeness. &nbsp;They can be mitigated by increasing airflow through the canopy, proper disposal of pruning material and reducing standing water as well as sprays of sulfur or fungicides such as Pristine or Kali-green. &nbsp;Fungal diseases are particularly difficult in humid environments but they affect growers of almost every region. &nbsp;The severity of the infection depends highly on the local climate.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Animals can also pose a threat to vineyards and should be monitored closely for damage that can impact the vineyard in negative ways. &nbsp;Animals typically cause harm by eating the fruit. Problems can arise when they eat so much that yields begin to be significantly impacted or they cause widespread damage to the clusters which allow Botrytis or Acetobacter to move in. &nbsp;Birds can be particularly damaging by pecking at the skin of the grapes. &nbsp;Vineyards on the Central coast of California sometimes bring in full time Falconers to discourage birds through natural predators. &nbsp;Animals must be managed so that the fruit can reach the winery safe and sound.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> There are a variety of pests and diseases that affect vineyards worldwide including those outlined above and each comes with its own challenges for the vineyard manager. As viticulture is an agricultural based occupation, growers are at the mercy of nature and their environment however by remaining vigilant and reacting quickly to problems they will have a better chance of preserving the health of their vineyard. &nbsp;&nbsp;</div><br /> </p> Fri, 29 Jul 2016 00:00:00 -0400 article6825 Wine & Caviar To Remind You Claudia Angelillo <p><div><br /> There&rsquo;s always a reason to celebrate or something to which you can look forward. It could be the re-release of your favorite Starbucks drink, catching up with an old friend, or even a three day weekend. But when you need something extra special about which to get ecstatic, there is Champagne and caviar.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Caviar may be making a comeback, but did it ever leave? The word itself, caviar, is synonymous with epicurean elegance. &nbsp;It&rsquo;s a crucial component of the collective foodie palate, whether you eat that fragrant dollop off the back of your hand or enjoy it atop an avocado slice during Sunday brunch. &nbsp;No matter the scenario, those big, fat, and flavorful pearls beg for regal Champagne. When you are ready to reward yourself for a job well done, or simply wish to seize the moment for celebration, try one of these otherworldly pairings. They remind us that life is meant to be celebrated, and you deserve it.&nbsp;</div><br /> <br /> <strong>Champagne Taittinger Brut La Fran&ccedil;aise NV ($59.99) with Calvisius Caviar Tradition Prestige ($74.99)</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <div><br /> <em>This is a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier wines aged sur lie for almost four years (more than double the legal minimum.</em>) <em>The pairing experience:</em>&nbsp;<em>You&rsquo;re sitting on a bed of leaves commingled with nuts in an apple orchard on a crisp fall day. The sun lightly dusts your cheeks while the leaves and nuts crunch beneath your bum. The scent of macadamia, almond, and unwashed apple skin wafts into your nostrils. You inhale deeply and never regret it.</em></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>Champagne Taittinger Prelude Grands Crus NV ($94.99) with Calvisius Caviar Oscietra Classic ($119.99)</strong><br /><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em>This Champagne is a classic 50%/50% blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir produced exclusively from Grand Cru vineyards. Wine Spectator gave it 92 points. The pairing experience: Your&#39;re eating a buttery croissant while sitting on a balcony constructed with thick, marble balustrades. It overlooks a river so mineral-rich you can taste the seabed at first glance. Any second now, a sun shower is sure to begin.</em></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>Champagne Taittinger Comptes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs 2006 ($198.99) with Calvisius Caviar Siberian ($69.99)</strong><br /><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em>One hundred percent Chardonnay has arrived. The 2006 Champagne vintage was simply brilliant, and it still shows. The pairing experience: You&#39;re carried along the breeze on the back of linden blossoms from the vineyards of Champagne to the bottom of Siberia&rsquo;s Baikal Lake. You have the power to breathe under water.</em></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>Champagne Taittinger Comptes de Champagne&nbsp;Ros&eacute;&nbsp;2006 ($261.99) with Calvisius Caviar Oscietra Royal ($139.99)</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em>This wine received 95 points from Wine Spectator. It&#39;s a tryst with rich red fruit and a certain, satisfying brine that is nearly ineffable. When you are ready to enter another dimension where mind and body meld into a harmonious one, try this pairing on for size.&nbsp;</em><br /><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em>Learn more about the wines <a href=""><strong>here</strong></a>.</em></div><br /> <div><br /> <em>Learn more about the caviar <a href=""><strong>here</strong></a>.</em></div><br /> </p> Tue, 19 Jul 2016 00:00:00 -0400 article6824 Wine Myths: Debunked Snooth Editorial <p>Wine myths are often unspoken but incredibly pervasive. Their looming presence may prevent wine novices from feeling confident about how they drink. Most would agree that wine experiences are best enjoyed with friends, but myths can hinder otherwise joyous wine drinking occasions. <em>&ldquo;Sparkling wine MUST be enjoyed in a flute glass, or else!&rdquo; &ldquo;Wines sealed with a screw cap are ALWAYS unenjoyable.</em>&rdquo;&nbsp;Many wine myths have circulated for decades. Legions of potential wine lovers can be turned off by a single falsehood. Quashing wine myths is an ideal way to make wine more inclusionary and accessible to all who wish to participate. Our esteemed cadre of wine writers has exposed the truth about some commonly believed wine myths. Spread the word!&nbsp;<br /> <div><br /> <strong>Soave is crappy.&nbsp;</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> In the 1970s, Americans consumed more Soave than Chianti. This Italian wine hails from the Veneto region of Northern Italy, and, for decades, the name carried with it connotations of insipidness and wateriness. Now, it is true: there are many lame Soave &nbsp;wines. But there are plenty of good ones too, damn good. The crummy stuff tends to be labeled simply Soave, and the grapes are sourced from productive vineyards in the region&#39;s fertile plain. But the good stuff comes from Soave Classico appellation, the historic heart of the region, and is labeled as such. Here, where the Romans planted vines some 2,000 years ago, you can find some of the only volcanic basalt soils in Northern Italy. These soils are heaven for the Garganega grape, which produces wines with abundant minerality, bright floral tones and crisp acidity. There are steely and mineral-laden versions and there are rounder, oak-aged versions &mdash; plenty of styles and wines to explore. And, perhaps because of the larger appellation&#39;s reputation, you can buy really good Soave Classico for about $20. Producers like <a href=""><strong>Inama</strong></a>, Pieropan and Monte Tondo are a good place to start.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em>Isaac James Baker, </em>&nbsp;<a href="">Reading, Writing &amp; Wine</a></div><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>I don&rsquo;t like this wine.</strong><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> My favorite myth is one that bothers me to this day. &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t like (insert type of wine here).&rdquo; &nbsp;In daily form, I hear it something like this:&nbsp;<br /><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t like ros&eacute;.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t like champagne.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t like pinot grigio.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> I bet you, too, have heard this more than once. It&rsquo;s important to realize that one or more bad experiences does not always mean that we don&rsquo;t like that specific grape. More often than not, It&#39;s a myth! It&rsquo;s that we went to a party and were served &ldquo;either red or white&rdquo; from very large, very cheap bottles, and to no one&#39;s surprise, found the wines lacking in quality and style. Sad but true, that really mediocre wines serve to lower the quality of our experience and personal value to that type of wine. &nbsp;I sometimes have guests who apologize in an attempt to refuse a wine I&rsquo;m serving. I will gently say, &ldquo;Just have a taste and if you don&rsquo;t love it, I&rsquo;ll pour you something else.&rdquo; That encouragement is enough to get them to put the glass to their lips and experience a wine that can put that former (negative) experience firmly in the past, and is usually followed with &ldquo;Oh, I&rsquo;d like to have more of this, thank you!&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em>Jim van Bergen,</em> <a href="">JvBUnCorked</a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Those little diamonds mean your wine is contaminated.</strong><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> I remember first reading about wine diamonds in a technical book about winemaking. Diamonds in my wine? Is that a problem? As I quickly discovered, wine diamonds are a euphemism for tartrates that are formed when potassium (or less likely calcium) and tartaric acid bind together to form crystals. Both are naturally occurring products of wine grapes and potassium bitartrate is commonly known as cream of tartar. Wine diamonds are more likely to form in white wine than red because of the difference in winemaking techniques used to produce them. The problem with wine diamonds is that when wine drinkers find them at the bottom of their wine glass, or on a cork, they think their wine is contaminated. This is a wine myth that needs to be debunked. Wine diamonds are not a contaminant in your wine, they&rsquo;re perfectly natural. They are little gems that may simply indicate the wine was overchilled and very likely that a hands-off approach was used in making the wine. That&rsquo;s not so bad. There are a number of techniques winemakers use to assure tartrates do not form after a wine is bottled. Cold stabilization, storing wine at very cold temperatures so that the tartrates form before bottling, is the traditional method. Modern techniques include filtration and the addition of compounds that inhibit crystal formation. All methods have benefits and disadvantages the winemaker must consider. And, even after considerable effort to prevent their formation, the crystals may still form after a wine is bottled. So, remember, wine diamonds are not a contaminant in your wine. When I discover wine diamonds in my glass or on a cork, I celebrate the find! Then I take pictures and post them on social media. Cheers!</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em>Nancy Brazil, </em><a href="">Pull That Cork&nbsp;</a></div><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>That wine needs to be stored at the right temperature.</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <div><br /> I have to say that there are a host of Wine Myths out there that need to be debunked, but the one that I spend the most time debunking is the need to keep your wines at a constant 55˚F. Now, as a preface, I am not talking about wine that you are storing as an investment (which as Joe Roberts points out, is usually a terrible idea), nor am I talking about wine that you intend for long-term storage (think first-growth Bordeaux from a great vintage). No, I am talking about the wines that you intend for short to medium-term drinking in the next 5 or even ten years. You do not need to spend several thousand dollars to keep these wines in a constant state of chill. What you need is a cool dark space that is not susceptible to sudden temperature swings. In other words, you do not want it to be 65˚ one day and 85˚ the next. Ideally, the space should also not get above 80˚ either. I have kept my collection of around 1500 bottles in a basement with no additional refrigeration for we&#39;ll over a decade and I have had no issues. I live in Philadelphia where summer temps can reach well into the 90˚s but the basement rarely gets above 75˚. So instead of spending that extra cash on a fancy fridge, buy a case or two of Krug and invite me over to share a bottle.<br /><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em>Jeff Kralik, </em><a href="">The Drunken Cyclist</a></div><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <div><br /> <strong>More expensive wine is better.</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> There are no shortage of myths in the wine world that should be buried. One of the most frustrating that I hear often from consumers at tastings that I host is the misconception that wine quality is always directly determined by price. The higher the price the better the wine goes the myth. There are of course many great wines that are expensive but studies and blind tastings consistently disprove the expensive equals better myth.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> I look to regions like the Loire Valley (especially Muscadet) and Languedoc in France, Chile, Spain, and South Africa for interesting wines that deliver serious quality and value. One of my favorite value wines that consistently delivers quality above it&rsquo;s $10 price tag is the Cabernet Sauvignon from Los Vascos winery, located in the Colchagua Valley region of Chile.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Ruby color in the glass, this Cab offers notes of raspberries, licorice and thyme around a plum core with pepper on the edges. Firm tannins and well-balanced, this wine pairs perfectly with a ribeye steak on the grill.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em>Frank Morgan,</em> <a href="">Drink What You Like</a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>The more expensive the wine, the better the wine.</strong><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Sometimes this is true. But having just visited three regions in California, I can tell you that I had some wines in Paso Robles that would give Napa and Sonoma wines a run for the money &ndash; at a fraction of the price. There are so many factors that influence wine pricing that have nothing to do with the wine itself. Wine regions, shelf position, brand and celebrity affiliation can all drive pricing through the roof. The lesser-known regions, grapes, producers and places &ndash; often hard to pronounce &ndash; can be the undiscovered diamonds in the rough.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em>Melanie Ofenloch</em>, <a href="">Dallas Wine Chick</a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Sweet wine can&rsquo;t be good.</strong><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Mention you like sweet wines and many will look at you with raised eyebrows, waiting for the punchline. Sweet wines are for amateurs, right? On the contrary, some of the best wines in the world are sweet: Hungary&#39;s Tokaji, &nbsp;Austria and Germany&#39;s Trockenbeerenauslese, France&#39;s Sauternes; the list goes on. These wines are generally very sweet but balanced, show a broad range of flavors, and are amongst the world&#39;s most cellar-worthy wines. Sweet wines aren&#39;t all about dessert, though -- search out light-to-mid sweet wines and pair them with salty or spicy foods for a more nuanced experience.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em>Kovas Palubinskas, </em><a href="">50 States Of Wine</a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <br /><br /> <div><br /> <strong>Old World wines are superior to New World wines.</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Conventional wine wisdom goes like this. Wines from the Old World (think primarily France, Spain and Italy) are superior to New World (think primarily the United States, Australia, and South America) wines. While it&rsquo;s true that Old World countries have had a couple of thousand years head start on planting the right grapes in the right place, and mastering &nbsp;growing &nbsp;and wine making techniques, the New World has caught on relatively quickly. Tremendous strides have been made in quality, diversity and ultimately, sales of New World wines. The most celebrated example of the New World betting the Old World at their own game, of course, is the 1976 Judgment of Paris when California Chardonnay and Cabernet Blends beat the best wines from Burgundy and Bordeaux in a blind tasting with French judges. &nbsp;And in more recent times, there are numerous examples of that same scenario repeating itself across various Old World vs. New World countries.<br /><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The Old World versus New World is a false dichotomy because there is a wealth of examples of New World wines made in the Old World style (less overt fruit, lower alcohol, and higher acidity), and wines originating in Old World countries made in the New World style (riper, more overt fruit flavors, higher alcohol and less acidity) A wine should be judged on its own merits without bias based on place of origin. Let your palate be your guide!&nbsp;<br /><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em>Martin Redmond, </em><a href="">ENOFYLZ Wine Blog</a></div><br /> </div><br /> </div><br /> <div><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Merlot makes insipid red wines.&nbsp;</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Long before Sideways took a swipe at Merlot and launched Pinot Noir further into the wine stratosphere there were issues. A lot of wineries were making Merlot in a style that didn&rsquo;t inspire enthusiasm. In fact such a large percentage of Merlot, particularly from the New World, was at best generic and at worst undrinkable. However there have always been excellent examples of Merlot produced in CA and other New World areas. Over the last few years there are more producers in CA (for example) than at any time in recent memory focusing on their Merlot program with renewed vigor. When it&rsquo;s planted in the right spot and treated appropriate thereafter Merlot can and should be structured, age worthy and loaded with appealing character. Most importantly it should unabashedly be Merlot. To me that&lsquo;s a wine that brings to mind and iron fist in a velvet glove. One brand new release from a large, well known California producer is worth seeking out if you want a terrific Napa Merlot. <strong>Franciscan Estate 2013 Napa Valley Reserve Merlot ($45)</strong>:&nbsp;The Reserve Merlot is a brand new release in the Franciscan Portfolio. In addition to Merlot (93%), small amounts of Syrah (6%), and Cabernet Sauvignon (1%) were blended in. All of the fruit came from Oak Knoll. It&rsquo;s made from a cuvee of select barrels. Red cherry, leather and black pepper are all evident on the nose. When you take the first sip your senses are knocked out by all the continuing red cherry fruit tinged by bits of black cherry. Cinnamon and clove spices are in play as well. The velvety finish shows off dusty dark cocoa, pencil lead and sweet dry cherry flavors. This is an absolutely outstanding Merlot with tremendous structure. &nbsp;It&rsquo;s wonderful now but I&rsquo;d hold it for 3-4 years and drink it in the 5 after that. Either way this is a very serious stab at top shelf Merlot at a very reasonable price.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em>Gabe Sasso,</em> <a href="">Gabe&rsquo;s View</a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Napa Valley stereotypes are true.</strong><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Ever since I moved to the Napa Valley two and a half years ago, I pay more attention to media references about where I live and the wines we produce. Narratives about the Napa Valley frequently resort to generalizations and stereotypes, often with negative overtones. The media perpetuates the narrow-minded focus that the Napa Valley is comprised of gigantic corporate producers, shiny and ornate tasting rooms, and cabernet sauvignon. The Napa Valley is more than corporations and cabernet. In fact, 78% of the Napa Valley&rsquo;s producers make fewer than 10,000 cases and 67% produce fewer than 5000 cases. Ninety-five percent of our wineries are family owned and operated. Our microclimates and differing soil types allow for many grape varieties to flourish. Only 40% of our grape production is cabernet sauvignon, while the other 60% includes grape varieties such as cabernet franc, chardonnay, merlot, petite sirah, pinot noir, sauvignon blanc, syrah, zinfandel, and many more. The styles and prices of our wines vary as greatly as the wines produced. One day, one may enjoy traditional method sparkling wines like blanc de blancs, blanc de noirs, and brut ros&eacute; at one of our sparkling producers like Domaine Carneros, Domaine Chandon, Mumm, or Schramsberg. The next day, one travels high atop Spring Mountain to a side-by-side tasting of chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, and riesling (yes, riesling!) in the rustic production building at Smith-Madrone. Ehlers Estate produces Bordeaux-style wines from their organic, estate vineyards, including their atypical 100% petit verdot. Madrigal Family Winery, paying homage to Chris Madrigal&rsquo;s Spanish ancestry, offers estate garnacha and tempranillo. Benessere crafts Italian varietal wines such as aglianico, moscato di canelli, pinot grigio, sagrantino, and sangiovese. Coquerel Wines makes verdelho, tempranillo, and late-harvest sauvignon blanc. I haven&rsquo;t scratched the surface of the depth and breadth of the Napa Valley&rsquo;s wine options, as there are approximately 475 physical wineries, not including custom-crush producers. The next time you are considering wines from the Napa Valley, please enjoy our cabernet sauvignon, but explore beyond it. While here, venture away from the beaten path and you&rsquo;ll discover the real Napa Valley and its diverse wines. (Statistics provided by Napa Valley Vintners and the Napa Valley Register)</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em>Elizabeth Smith,</em> <a href="">Traveling Wine Chick</a></div><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Drink only red wine with red meat and white wine with fish.</strong><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Myths gain traction for a reason. While savoring a well marbled steak and gorgeous Cabernet Sauvignon, tannins in the wine weave themselves with fatty char from the meat to create a tapestry of deliciousness in your mouth. Similarly, enjoying a Rueda wine with fish creates magic. However, as myths go, this needs to be busted. &nbsp;At an event with the team from Wagner Family Wines team, they described a swoon worthy pairing of grilled sea bass with one of their delicious reds. &nbsp;Heresy? &nbsp;No. Sea Bass is often described as a &ldquo;meaty&rdquo; fish and grilling is a cooking method that adds body to a dish. This was a great example of matching overall body of food to wine. Matching overall body ends up being more important than matching color. Wine pairing is like a Rubik&rsquo;s Cube puzzle to line up sweetness, acidity, alcohol, oak and tannins to complement food elements. If all the sides are balanced and you can also get flavors to match (or contrast) with equal persistency between wine and food flavors, you won&rsquo;t need to lean on myths to create your own legendary food and wine pairings. So think about texture and flavors more than whether the color of the meat matches the color of the wine.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em>Liza Swift, </em><a href="">Brix Chicks</a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>The wine world is getting less diverse.</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Many wine myths out there are not true. But the one that I would like to tackle is a little bit more unorthodox - the myth that there is less diversity in the wine world than say fifty years ago. Many wine lovers are concerned that very popular grape varieties such as Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon are dominating the world to the detriment of extinction of local varieties. This is only partly true. Yes, many regions around the world are devoting more and more vineyards to grape varieties that are not native to the region, but that does not mean that we have completely lost diversity. How do I know we do not have an extreme lack of diversity of grape varieties? The book, Native Wine Grapes of Italy, by Ian D&rsquo;Agata, opened my eyes to the fact that the problem is not the lack of grape varieties but the lack of knowledge that they exist. I cannot do the book justice in this one short post, but let me just say that at the time his book was written, there were 461 official Italian grape varieties registered and D&rsquo;Agata has said there could easily be around 1000 currently existing in Italy. How did this happen? The book goes into great detail, but the basics are due to misidentification and growers being not completely sure what they are growing. This created a myth that there is a lot less diversity than actually present. A great example is a grape variety called Malvasia. There are actually 17 different cultivars within the group of Malvasia: one called Malvasia Bianca Lunga, another Malvasia del Lazio (you guessed it, it can be found in Lazio), another named Malvasia di Candia Aromatica, and so on and so on. Some of them are very different from each other. Most wine drinkers who are familiar with Malvasia will know it as a restrained white wine not showing any intense aromas or flavors. Not true with Malvasia di Candia Aromatica - it is, as you can also guess, very aromatic. Recently I tasted the 2015 Castello di Luzzano &lsquo;Tasto di Seta&rsquo; 100% Malvasia di Candia Aromatica and it was delicious with an explosion of floral notes - like no other Malvasia wine I have had before this one. It is important that this myth is debunked so we don&rsquo;t unknowingly lose the great diversity of grape varieties that currently exist, yet may not survive if we do not know about them and seek them out.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em>Cathrine Todd, </em><a href="">Dame Wine</a></div><br /> <div><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Real men don&rsquo;t drink pink wine.</strong><br /><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> I&rsquo;ll talk about a few wine myths associated with ros&eacute;, since the heat is on and ros&eacute; has totally become synonymous with summer. The good news is there is far less stigma surrounding these pink-hued wines than there was just five years ago. Unfortunately, ros&eacute; is still now and again viewed as a cheap, sweet, lackluster wine. Besides a lack of wine education, this possibly has a lot to do with White Zinfandel. I&rsquo;m not knocking White Zin since it is usually many people&#39;s introduction to the wonderful world of wine and the reason there are many old vine Zinfandel vineyards in California. While sweet, cheap, and lackluster may hold true for some pink juice, there are a countless number of attractively refreshing, drier examples that not only taste good but are versatile and offer endless food pairing possibilities &ndash; particularly with light summer fare. Another myth you will hear is, &ldquo;Real men don&rsquo;t drink pink wine.&rdquo; Are you serious? Let truth be told, I think bros sip way more pink juice than the ladies. Someone must be looking at old data. Lastly, you may hear that wines like ros&eacute; are nothing more than warm weather porch-pounders. This is nonsense. While the pink juice does shine and satisfy during the summer months, I keep them in my wine rotation year-round. In addition to the traditional Pinot Noir and Riesling, I can tell you from experience that ros&eacute; will perform admirably on your Thanksgiving table. Now, I do realize that some of you have tried to think pink &amp; drink pink but it wasn&rsquo;t for you. And that&rsquo;s okay; at least you tried, right? However, if you have made your mind up after only trying one or two examples, then I ask you to &ldquo;rethink pink&rdquo; and give pink wine a second chance. Find a wonderfully crisp, drier style ros&eacute; and give it an opportunity to win you over this summer. And please let us know what you find and like. Cheers!&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em>Dezel Quillen,</em>&nbsp;<a href="">My Vine Spot</a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Old World and New World styles are totally different.</strong></div><br /> </div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> There are many wine myths out there. Most come from misconceptions and misinformation. One myth I am particularly drawn to is the idea of &ldquo;old world wine&rdquo; and &ldquo;new world wine.&rdquo; The separation of these &ldquo;worlds&rdquo; is simple: old world represents countries and regions before 1492; new world is all who came after 1492. Seems clear enough; however, the wine myth is these two &ldquo;worlds&rdquo; craft wines in different styles. This may have once been true, but in the 21st century this myth is now bunk. In the US, South America, South Africa, and more many wines are produced with the philosophy of balance and &ldquo;less is more&rdquo; in winemaking styles. Some would easily pass as Burgundy, Bordeaux, and even Alsace. Conversely, I have experienced wines from France, Italy, and Spain that fooled a group of 100 plus sommeliers into thinking they were &ldquo;new world&rdquo; wines. Are there style differences? Yes, but these styles have more to do with wine making philosophy than with geographical location. Balanced wines are good wines regardless of what &ldquo;world&rdquo; produced them.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em>Michelle Williams,</em> <a href="">Rockin Red Blog</a></div><br /> </p> Tue, 19 Jul 2016 00:00:00 -0400 article6823 Washington & Oregon Wines Tread the Line Gabe Sasso <p>Columbia Valley, Columbia Gorge, and Walla Walla Valley: a triumvirate of outstanding wine producing regions with a fascinating twist. While there are numerous ways in which these three areas are vastly different from each other, they have one key similarity. Their acreage spans across both Washington and Oregon states. I spent a week traveling through the three regions. There were times when I was standing in a vineyard, tasting wine, and unsure if I were in Washington or Oregon. State borders don&rsquo;t always follow the rules of the vine. These three areas, regardless of state lines, share characteristics that impact the wine in question. Another thing all three regions have in common is that an impressive number of well-made wines are available at an incredible price to quality ratio. Everywhere I visited, wines of proportion loaded with typicity and flavor greeted me. Now I&rsquo;m excited for them to greet you.<br /> These are by and large wines that have relatively low alcohol by new world standards. This was particularly true in Columbia Gorge which is a treasure trove of excellent, aromatic white wines. Columbia Valley and Walla Walla Valley also had some tasty whites but I was generally more taken with the reds in those areas.<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Over my time tasting in these three terrific regions many dozens of wines passed my lips. From that I&rsquo;ve culled my 16 favorites. These are the bottles I&rsquo;m still thinking about, the wines I&rsquo;m going to badger my local bottle shop to stock, and the producers I&rsquo;m most likely to revisit the next time I&rsquo;m in the area. These are also the bottles you should make a strong effort to acquire. Distinct and delicious wine abounds in each and every bottle. While you&rsquo;re at it, plan your next wine vacation to the area and pick up a few bottles on site.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Vital Winery 2015 Ros&eacute;</strong></a> ($15)</div><br /> <div><br /> Here&rsquo;s a Ros&eacute; produced from Sangiovese sourced at Seven Hills Vineyard in Walla Walla Valley. This Ros&eacute; has a beautiful pale pink hue. Aromas of wild strawberry are dotted with bits of cr&egrave;me fraiche. Red fruits flavors dominate the palate and lead to a crisp, refreshing finish. All of the profits from this wine go to a no questions asked clinic right in Walla Walla. So drinking this wine is good for you since it&rsquo;s delicious and it does some good as well, a win win.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Brooks 2013 Gew&uuml;rztraminer</strong></a> ($20)</div><br /> <div><br /> All of the fruit for this Gew&uuml;rztraminer was sourced at the Oak Ridge Vineyard in the Columbia Gorge. Asian pear and spices elements highlight an absolutely stunning nose. Peach, apricot and bits of Lychee fruit dominate the lovely palate. Bits of spice and continued white fruits appear on the finish. This beautifully dry wine has a gorgeous mouthfeel and texture.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Cor Cellars 2015 Alba </strong></a>($20)</div><br /> <div><br /> This is a blend of Gew&uuml;rztraminer (56%) and Pinot Gris (44%) from the Celilo Vineyard in the Columbia Gorge. Aromas of pineapple and citrus are prominent. Toasted hazelnuts, tangerine zest and fleshy yellow fruit flavors rule the palate. Spice notes mark the crisp, zippy finish.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Viento 2012 Dry Riesling</strong></a> ($20)</div><br /> <div><br /> The Columbia Gorge vines this fruit came from had 31 years of age on them. White flowers and bits of linseed oil are apparent on the nose. Peach and dried apricot flavors are abundant through the palate. White pepper and continued white and yellow fruit flavors are abundant on the finish. This Riesling will age well for many years to come.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Violia Wine Cellars 2014 Barbera d&rsquo;Alder</strong></a> ($25)</div><br /> <div><br /> Fruit is from Alder Ridge Vineyard in Horse Heaven Hills, WA. Dark fruit aromas with a slight bit of tar emerge from the immensely appealing nose. Lots of dry, dark berry flavors and savory herbs mark the even-keeled palate. Bits of chicory and cranberry emerge on the finish. Excellent acid and firm tannins provide great structure. Grab some sharp cheese, salami, bread and a bottle of this wine for an outstanding evening of pleasure.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Maryhill 2012 Barbera</strong></a> ($26)</div><br /> <div><br /> This is entirely Barbera from the Estate Vineyard located in the Columbia Valley. This killer food wine shows off toasty oak and dark berry fruit aromas. The palate is stuffed with an interchanging m&eacute;lange of red and black fruit flavors. Savory herbs and spices are present on the luscious, mouthwatering finish.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Grochau Cellars 2013 Tempranillo</strong></a> ($28)</div><br /> <div><br /> This Tempranillo was made from fruit sourced at Sugarloaf vineyard in the Yakima Valley. Red cherry aromas and bits of cigar box are apparent on the nose. The palate is stuffed with lush red fruits, savory herbs and hints of leather. A cornucopia of spices such as cinnamon and clove are part of the long finish alongside continuing red fruit flavors.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Jacob Williams 2013 Zinfandel</strong></a> ($30)</div><br /> <div><br /> This Zinfandel was sourced at The Gunkel Vineyard in Wishram, WA, which is part of the Columbia Valley. Black and red raspberry aromas are joined by a touch of eucalyptus. Savory herbs, black cherry, and red plum flavors dominate the palate. Hits of mint and spice as well as more juicy fruit flavors are present on the long finish. This is a distinct expression of Zinfandel.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Helioterra 2013 Red Mountain Mourv&eacute;dre</strong></a> ($31)</div><br /> <div><br /> The Red Mountain district was the source of this fruit. Bay leaf aromas are at play alongside red and black plum flavors. Copious spice elements, subtle red earth and continued dark fruits are all part of the above average finish. Firm tannins and acid provide excellent structure here. Delicious now this Mourv&eacute;dre will age gracefully for a dozen years.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Heart Catcher 2012 Zinfandel</strong></a> ($35)</div><br /> <div><br /> The fruit is from the Volcano Ridge Vineyard in Columbia Gorge. The nose here is filled with red plum aromas. Raspberry and red cherry flavors dominate the full flavored and well-proportioned palate. Juicy red and black fruits are joined by pepper spice on the long finish. This is an impeccably balanced example of Zinfandel that will pair with an astounding array of food styles.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Woodward Canyon 2014 Chardonnay </strong></a>($44)</div><br /> <div><br /> Fruit for this wine was sourced in both Columbia Gorge and Walla Walla Valley. Pineapple and papaya aromas leap from the nose here. Tons of fresh yellow fruit flavors fil the lively palate. Anjou pear, green apple and baking spices are in evidence on the above average finish. The use of oak here was judicious and it lifts the fruit to a higher plane, doesn&rsquo;t detract from it. This is a really terrific example of well-made Chardonnay.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Cana&rsquo;s Feast 2013 Sangiovese Grosso</strong></a> ($45)</div><br /> <div><br /> This Sangiovese was produced entirely from Sangiovese Grosso planted on Red Mountain in 1975. Occasionally a wine will stop me dead in my tracks, such is the case here. Red cherry, leather and bits of cinnamon appear on the nose. Raspberry, bay leaf and black cherry tell the story of the generous, deep and layered palate. Succulent red fruits and continued bits of spice are part of the prodigious finish. I wasn&rsquo;t expecting to find a Sangiovese with the soul of a Brunello in the PNW, but I did. Drink it now or lay it down for a decade either way it&rsquo;ll be a delight.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Seven Hills Winery 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon</strong></a> ($45)</div><br /> <div><br /> The Seven Hills Vineyard was planted in Walla Walla Valley in 1980. Rosemary, sage and black raspberry aromas are prominent. A deluge of black cherry flavors lead the palate alongside bits of toast and vanilla. Roasted espresso and a dusting of cocoa emerge on the elegant finish. This is a lovely and refined example of Cabernet Sauvignon</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Co Dinn Cellars 2013 Syrah Roskamp Vineyard Block Two</strong></a> ($50)</div><br /> <div><br /> This wine is composed entirely of Yakima Valley Syrah. The nose is big and a bit booming with blackberry and a host of spices leading the way. Boysenberry, black raspberry, cherry and savory herbs are present on the dark fruit-driven palate. Chicory, dark chocolate and pepper are all evident on the finish. This will be a great accompaniment for grilled meats.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Wy&rsquo;East Vineyards 2013 Reserve Pinot Noir </strong></a>($52)</div><br /> <div><br /> This Pinot was made from Estate fruit grown in the Hood River section of Columbia Gorge. Bits of red currant and spice emerge on the nose. Wisps of cherry, pomegranate and cranberry are all apparently on the palate. Black tea, finely ground earth and a bit of bay leaf present on the long finish.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Delmas 2012 Syrah</strong></a> ($65)</div><br /> <div><br /> All of the fruit comes from the Estate SJR Vineyard in the newly designated &ldquo;The Rocks&rdquo; district within Walla Walla Valley. Delmas makes one wine each year and this is it. The Syrah is co-fermented with Viognier. The lifted nose shows red fruit as well as white flower aromas. Blueberry and gentle wisps of appealing tar lead the dense and layered palate. Cherry, spice, Savory herb and hints of blackberry are present as well. The finish here is long, lush and engaging with fruit minerals and more. What I love most about this spectacular Syrah is the absolutely wonderful mouth-feel that has excellent weight and gravitas.</div><br /> </p> Thu, 14 Jul 2016 00:00:00 -0400 article6821 Your Wine: It’s All About the Oak! Nova McCune Cadamatre <p>One of the first things that comes to mind when a consumer envisions a winery is a huge stack of barrels. The amazing smell of wine soaked oak with its toasty, warm wood scent is intoxicating. As a winemaker, I never get tired of it. It always smells good assuming that the winery is taking proper care of their investment with cleanliness and sanitation procedures. There are many mysteries surrounding oak however. What is it used for? Why? Who decided that it was the best wood for wine?<br /> It is not certain when oak was first used for wine storage however the general consensus is that it has been used for wine production for over 2,000 years most likely originating with the Romans during their conquests of France. There are two main types of oak that are used in winemaking; European Oak, which can come from France, Hungary or Yugoslavia, and American. The species of European oak can be from Quercus robur or Quercus petraea and American oak is typically Quercus alba. French oak is typically the most prized of the European oaks due to the fine nature of tannins although it is from the same species as the Central European trees. Both types have pros and cons and typically the choice comes down to winemaker preference and desired style.<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The European Oak species grow more slowly than their American cousin which makes the rings in the trunk appear more closely together. This gives the staves made from this species a tighter grain. Why does this matter? The tighter grain gives the oak different flavors from its wider grained cousin. It also encourages the addition of extra oak tannins. The flavors given off by the wood depends on the toast level.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>American Oak Toast Profiles:</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Light Toast/Medium Toasts = Coconut, Vanilla, Brown Sugar, and Cinnamon</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Medium +/ Heavy Toasts = Toasted Marshmallow, Caramel, and Cloves bordering on coffee</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>French Oak Toast Profiles:</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Light Toast/Medium Toasts = Vanilla, Baking spices, and Cedar</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Medium +/ Heavy Toasts = Roasted Coffee, Tobacco, Smoke, and Charcoal</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> One of the most challenging things to a winemaker about choosing oak is that each Cooper (Barrel Maker) has their own definition of each of the toast levels above. The final flavors of the oak are very much driven by the Cooper profile. This makes it very difficult to decide what a wine will taste like once your wine is put into it without trying it out on the wine to begin with. This is why barrel trials are such an important part of any winery oak plan. Coopers are constantly coming up with the next best thing and a careful winemaker will try one or two barrels to determine if the change will be positive or negative for their wine profile. Some wines like very structured barrels and others need more delicate profiles. Once a winemaker has decided what oak to use and what toast level all that is left is to decide what form the oak will take.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>Oak Barrels:</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Barrels are the traditional choice. They can be formed several ways including through fire, steam, or water then toasted using heat, usually from an open flame. They allow the wood to integrate into the wine consistently while softening the wine through the occasional introduction of oxygen throughout the topping process. The wood itself does not transmit very much oxygen once it becomes saturated with wine and tartrate crystals. They are convenient fermentation vessels for white wines as the small amount of volume per barrel does not heat up rapidly and can be easily controlled by placing the barrel in a temperature controlled room or cave. &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>Oak Staves:</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Similar in shape to the staves that will eventually become barrels, oak staves are long segments of oak that are individually toasted without the bending process. The staves I&rsquo;ve seen are usually thinner than the barrel staves but depending on the producer they are toasted in much the same way as barrels or they can be roasted in a convection oven. Again, like barrels, the toasting method very much depends on winemaker preference and each way does tend to produce different flavors. The flavors and quality of staves varies widely from stave producer to producer. Poor quality staves tend to have the flavors sit very intensely on the nose of the finished wine but lack follow through on the palate. Good quality staves, when applied properly, can integrate very well and can be difficult to tell apart from barrels.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>Oak Segments:</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> This section of oak runs by many names. They are smaller than staves but usually larger than dust. They can be cut up staves, beans, cubes, chips or spirals and they usually come packaged in an infusion bag similar to that of tea (only larger of course). These are great for quick infusions of oak but when used too liberally can have the same problem as staves where the oak sits on the wine but never integrates. They can be useful for reviving older barrels but can be difficult to work around if lees stirring is part of your winemaking style. Like most things, a little bit goes a long way!</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Oak can add significant dimension and depth to a wine. It can increase complexity or it can overwhelm the fruit and drive the style. Many winemakers I have worked with have used the phrase &ldquo;The oak respects the fruit.&rdquo; This means that it complements it, does not overwhelm the fruit, and enhances the overall quality of the wine. This is the holy grail of a wine and oak marriage. When one assesses oak quality what a winemaker is looking for is this harmonious blending of grape and wood. This is why oak integration is such an important factor in determining the inherent quality of a wine. Understanding how a wine will react to oak is the task of a winemaker. Understanding why the winemaker did what they did is the task of the consumer. &nbsp;Either way it can be enjoyable to find out. &nbsp;&nbsp;</div><br /> </p> Tue, 12 Jul 2016 00:00:00 -0400 article6820 Godello Wines Have Arrived John Downes <p>I&rsquo;d never heard of Godello until a few years ago but this Spanish white grape variety is now a regular on U.K. wine shelves. What&rsquo;s more, it&rsquo;s here to stay; it&rsquo;s easy to pronounce, the wines taste good and, let&rsquo;s be honest, we all like to tell our mates about a &lsquo;new&rsquo; wine. Godello comes from north-west Spain where the vineyard areas of Bierzo, Valdeorras, Ribeira Sacra and Monterrei have taken this &lsquo;new kid on the block&rsquo; to heart. I recently tasted several Godello wines from Bierzo where the variety thrives amongst the mountains, castles and pine forests of this beautiful vineyard region. That flight of dry, zesty, crisp citrus, apricot and peach wines made my day. Bierzo is a small, remote ancient region in the north-western corner of the Castilla y Le&oacute;n province close to the border with Galicia, (north of the Portuguese border) and is one of Spain&rsquo;s rising stars. Add Godello into the equation and&hellip;it&rsquo;s looking good. <br /> If you want to spend a few days in the vineyards the nearest airport is Vigo on the coast but if fancy walking, the market town of Cacabelos is a well known resting point along the world famous Camino de Santiago. When the pilgrims arrive in Bierzo with blistered feet &lsquo;the end is in sight&rsquo; for Santiago de Compostella is just up the road. &nbsp;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Bierzo gained its D.O. (Denominacion de Origin) in 1989 and comprises two zones, Bierzo Alto (high Bierzo), where terraced plots cling to steep slopes and Bierzo Bajo (low Bierzo), the plain below. The vineyards lie between 450 and 1000 metres above sea level, their soils varying from the alluvial plain to the prestigious high level slate. The region&rsquo;s cool climate is a result of the influence of the Atlantic Ocean to the west. Although summer temperatures can be in the mid to high twenties centigrade, winter temperatures as low as four degrees make it no surprise that the clever pilgrim takes to the well trodden path under the springtime sunshine. &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Bierzo is also slowly gaining reputation for its reds from the little known Mencia grape; like Godello they&rsquo;re well worth searching out. For all my global anorak readers; for years it was rumoured that Mencia was related to Cabernet Franc, the classic red grape of the Loire Valley and Bordeaux but recent DNA tests show that the nearest link is Portugal&rsquo;s Jaen variety. Don&rsquo;t worry, I&rsquo;d never heard of Jaen either!</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Bierzo&rsquo;s reds of old were simple rustic affairs but things have changed as a new generation of winemakers have realised Mencia&rsquo;s potential to produce bright, juicy black fruit, plum wines. You&rsquo;ll see &lsquo;Crianza&rsquo; on the labels of Bierzo reds which means that the wine must by law be aged for a minimum of 6 months in oak barrels and a minimum of 18 months in bottle before hitting our shelves. &lsquo;Reserva&rsquo; means that it must spend at least 12 months in oak and 24 months in the bottle before release into our glasses.&nbsp;<br /><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> So, look out for Bierzo red, you&rsquo;ll be well rewarded but don&rsquo;t forget the rising white star of this up and coming region&hellip;&lsquo;no more waiting for Godello!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <div><br /> <em>John Downes, one of only 340 Masters of Wine in the world is a corporate entertainer, speaker, television and radio broadcaster and writer on wine. Check out John&rsquo;s website at <a href=""><strong></strong></a>. Follow him on Twitter <a href=""><strong>@JOHNDOWNESMW</strong></a></em></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> </div><br /> <br /><br /> </p> Thu, 07 Jul 2016 00:00:00 -0400 article6818 Must-Drink Grapes from Greece Claudia Angelillo <p>Consider the inroads Greeks have made for us moderns in architectural design, mathematics, theater and more; wine is no exception. Greece is an indisputable forbear of grape growing and winemaking. Every sip of Greek wine represents expertise and intuition spanning centuries. These days, Greece&rsquo;s indigenous wine grapes are crushing it, as it were, in the United States. While there are over two hundred native varieties, the following four Greek grapes have a growing presence in key US markets. The grapes have evolved to thrive in Greece&rsquo;s extremely hot and arid conditions. They are an opportunity to try something truly distinctive and significant in the context of wine history. It&rsquo;s time to unearth the essence of Greece&rsquo;s four flagship grapes.&nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /> <br /><br /> </p> Fri, 01 Jul 2016 00:00:00 -0400 article6817 When You Run Out of Wine: Rum for a Change Gabe Sasso <p>Have you discovered the joys of sipping your rum neat, or are you only mixing it into cocktails? Both are certainly delicious ways to enjoy rum. However if you&rsquo;re not yet familiar with expressions that can be sipped much like one would scotch you&rsquo;re missing out. I recently returned from spending some time in Venezuela visiting Diplom&aacute;tico, one of the world&rsquo;s leading rum producers. Over a few days I toured their production facility and farm where they grow sugar cane. In addition to making delicious, world class expressions of rum, Diplom&aacute;tico is also doing things the right way. Some producers doctor their rum and what ends up in the bottle isn&rsquo;t a pure expression, this isn&rsquo;t the case with Diplom&aacute;tico. On top of that their farm and distillery are run sustainably. All of the waste from turning sugar cane into rum is treated and turned back into the field as a fertilizer. They even share the treated waste with neighbor farms. Diplom&aacute;tico also supplies the power to run their facilities. Other spirits are produced on the property as well, but the lineup of rums is the core of their operation.<br /> During my time in Venezuela I drank cocktails of all sorts and tasted each of their rums neat as well. I did this both with and without food; their rums work well in each setting. The highlight, for me, of a wonderful time in Venezuela was a side by side of their four sipping rums. Tasting these along with their Master Blender Tito Cordero was eye-opening, educational and a great pleasure.<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Diplom&aacute;tico Reserva ($24.99)</strong></a><br /><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> This is the entry level offering in Diplom&aacute;tico&rsquo;s quartet of sipping rums. Black fig and subtle bits of banana appear on the nose. Toasted hazelnut, dates, and a pure blast of molasses fill out the lovely palate. Vanilla bean, roasted coffee and dried plum flavors are evident on the above average finish. &nbsp;There are very few rums on the market that can compete on price and quality here. It&rsquo;s inexpensive enough that you won&rsquo;t mind blending it into cocktails and refined enough to sip neat</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Diplom&aacute;tico Reserva Exclusiva ($39.99)</strong></a><br /><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Vanilla, hints of cr&egrave;me fraiche and orange peel are all evident on the nose. Mission fig, dates, maple syrup and more are all part of the palate which is deep, layered and loaded with wave after wave of refined flavors. Hints of chocolate sauce, salinity, and fruitcake spices are all present on the lengthy finish. This rum represents the heart and soul of Diplom&aacute;tico. It&rsquo;s their largest production, most widely available rum and most stunning value. There are many sipping rums on the market in the same price range as Reserva Exclusiva, but none match the value it delivers. &nbsp;If you want to blow away your spirits loving friends pour them this rum from Diplom&aacute;tico. The aromas and flavors will knock them out; when they hear the price they&rsquo;ll run out and buy a bottle or two. This has the taste of luxury without the associated price tag. Put another way this is the best combination of quality, flavor and value in sipping rum available on liquor store shelves. Pour this and everyone will assume you&rsquo;re a liquor slinging genius.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Diplom&aacute;tico 2002 Single Vintage Rum ($114.99)</strong></a><br /><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> This unique expression is made entirely from sugar cane harvested in a single year. Apricot aromas dominate the nose with bits of smoke in evidence as well. The generous palate is dotted with toffee, dark chocolate, black tea and dried white fig flavors. Salted caramel, marzipan, spice notes, and bits of taffy are evident on the impressively long finish. There&rsquo;s a nice bite and fantastic structure here that provides a bit of heft and additional depth and complexity. Once again there are many examples of rum available in the same general price point; some of them are quite nice. However the Diplom&aacute;tico Single Vintage outclasses them. In addition to the 2002 I also sampled the 1997 and the 2001. It&rsquo;s clear that it&rsquo;s not only fantastic rum, but it&rsquo;s also improved each time out. The leap from the 1997 to the 2001 is remarkable. The shift upward from 2001 to 2002 is far more subtle but palpable nonetheless.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Diplom&aacute;tico Ambassador ($294.99)</strong></a><br /><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The top expression in the Diplom&aacute;tico range is produced exclusively from copper pot still distillate. Aromas of fresh cut wheat and mulled fruit fill the intricate and welcoming nose. Toasty oak, golden raisins, chocolate and wisps of black tea are in in play on the profound and impossibly dense palate. References to Tawny Port, toasted hazelnuts and a copious array of spices line the prodigious finish. Simply put this is the best Rum that has ever touched my lips. From the first whiff to the last sip everything about Ambassador is remarkably impressive. This is a rum you&rsquo;ll want to share with your closest friends, sipping it over a long purposeful night as you contemplate its many intricacies and flavors. It would be impossible for me to overstate how complex, delicious and worth analysis Ambassador is. Strive to get your hands on a bottle; you&rsquo;ll be happy you did.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The Reserva is multi-purpose rum; perfectly suitable sipped need (particularly with a twist of orange zest and an ice cube, but it&rsquo;s priced to work in cocktails too. &nbsp;At right around $30, if you shop around, the Reserva Exclusiva is the steal of the lineup. It not only knocks a lot of other similarly priced rums out of the water on quality and value, it also compares favorably from a value perspective to whiskey. You simply aren&rsquo;t getting nearly that level of quality in whiskies anywhere near these prices. The Single Vintage and Ambassador are bench mark rums whose quality and level of sophistication and expression other producers should be clamoring to achieve. Kudos to Diplom&aacute;tico for making such terrific expressions of Venezuelan rum that set the bar for other to emulate. Raise the stakes of your home bar by adding one or more of their offerings to your collection.</div><br /> </p> Fri, 17 Jun 2016 00:00:00 -0400 article6815 New World Wine Secrets: Murrieta’s Well Snooth Editorial <p>California&rsquo;s Livermore Valley is entwined with the legacy of winemaking genius Carl H. Wente. He was among the first to harness Livermore&rsquo;s unique geographical orientation and terroir for quality grape growing and winemaking. The region and its gravely soils run from east to west; an exceptional position that draws bay breezes and fog in a direct path to the shore. What would otherwise be overwhelming warmth in the valley is tempered and cooled by these conditions. It&rsquo;s a phenomenon that nearby north to south-oriented regions cannot experience. Today, over one hundred and thirty years since Carl Wente&rsquo;s arrival in Livermore, his legacy lives on through the talents of his kith and kin. But generations of winemaking genius don&rsquo;t stop at the Wente label.&nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Murrieta&rsquo;s Well is one of California&rsquo;s best kept wine secrets. The estate winery&rsquo;s name honors Joaquin Murrieta, a miner in the California gold rush who discovered the property in the late 1800s. The vineyard area was first planted in 1884 with cuttings from Chateau d&rsquo;Yquem and Chateau Margaux, bridging the gap between the Old and New Worlds. It was purchased by the Wente family in 1930, and revitalized by fourth generation winegrower Phillip Wente in 1990 with a view toward crafting fine blends from small parcels of vineyard land. Decorated winemaker Robbie Meyer came to Murrieta&rsquo;s Well in 2015. With nineteen vintages under his belt and over one hundred 90+ point wines to his name, small block harvesting and superior blending are some of Robbie&rsquo;s specialties. His small-production blends clearly showcase a subtly powerful and elegant winemaking prowess. Grapes are carefully selected from each block on Murrieta&rsquo;s five hundred acre parcel. Every parcel is thoughtfully considered for inclusion in each blend. And like any feat of complex construction, Robbie builds his blends block by block.&nbsp;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Wines from Murrieta&rsquo;s Well are fashioned from tried and true vineyards by a modern craftsman in the spirit of Livermore Valley&rsquo;s California heritage. What&rsquo;s more: it&rsquo;s a time of great celebration at the estate! Stay tuned for more details on Snooth in the coming weeks. Until then, try some of the wine. These two signature blends are available nationwide at an incredible value.</div><br /> <br /> <a href=""><strong>Murrieta&rsquo;s Well The Whip White Wine Blend Livermore Valley 2014</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <div><br /> Beautiful floral nose of orange blossom, hints of tea leaf and honeysuckle with good fruit character of green apple. Tangerine and grapefruit flavors coming through on the palate with ripe peach and zesty minerality towards the finish. Fun and approachable.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Murrieta&rsquo;s Well The Spur Red Wine Blend Livermore Valley 2013</strong></a><br /><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Touched on the nose with spiced blackberry and black cherry, a bit of earth and red licorice. Ripe cherry and mixed berry flavors in the mouth with a spice box character, beautifully earthy and approachable and refreshing, with full acidity and well integrated tannins, and a touch of blueberry and a clay note on the finish.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em>A sneak peek at two of Robbie&rsquo;s small lot selections, only available at the estate in limited quantities:&nbsp;</em></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Murrieta&rsquo;s Well Chardonnay Small Lot Livermore Valley 2014</strong></a><br /><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Rich green apple and honeyed notes of pear, peach and dried apricot with a touch of sweet spice on the nose. This has plenty of character in the mouth but is nicely medium bodied with soft baked apple and pear notes, creamy vanilla frosting towards the finish which turns slightly zesty with hints of lemon meringue.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Murrieta&rsquo;s Well Cabernet Sauvignon Small Lot Livermore Valley 2013</strong></a><br /><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Molasses and dark plum aromas with hints of dried dates, cinnamon and blackberry. Gripping tannins in the mouth with zesty baking spice, full blown acidity brightening the palate, a touch herbal coming through the middle and bringing some cocoa and cassis in towards the finish that mixes in some ripe blackberry and black cherry.</div><br /> </p> Fri, 10 Jun 2016 00:00:00 -0400 article6812 There is Nothing Bourgeois about Cru Bourgeois Jeff Kralik <p>I did not really know much about wine when I started my junior year abroad studying in Strasbourg, France. At the time I was far more worried about the inebriating effect of wine than I was about aromas of pear skin or tayberry jam. In fact, I was more of a beer guy then, and I can recall several instances when a group of us would stop by the gas station in town to pick up a few liters of Kronenbourg, which was brewed right there in Alsace (to this day, you can buy alcohol in most gas stations in France, which must not help recent efforts to curb drunk driving).<br /><br /> <br /><br /> I lived with a French family that year and my French mother did her best to rid me of my rather pedestrian penchant for pilsners and replace it with a much more virtuous veneration for the vine (particularly those from France). She was clearly successful for the most part with one notable exception: Bordeaux.<br /><br /> <br /> From the beginning, I was not much of a Bordeaux fan, preferring instead the wines of Burgundy, which my French mother attributed to youthful ignorance. She claimed that most young people prefer Burgundy, but as their tastes &ldquo;matured&rdquo; and become refined, they invariably changed their preference to Bordeaux.<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> My French mother said a lot of crazy things, but at the time I thought this may have been near the top (in retrospect, she was a xenophobe and a racist so this was rather tame in comparison). Part of the reason that I was no fan of Bordeaux was that even though there were myriad classifications, it remained difficult to find decent wine without having to take out additional student loans.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Back in 1855, Napol&eacute;on III called for a classification of the top Bordeaux producers and, for the most part, it has remained unchanged (despite clear changes in quality--both up and down--over that time). Since then, there have been other classifications in St. &Eacute;milion and Graves, the former of which being fraught with contentious reclassifications and legal challenges.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> No classification, however, has had a more colorful history than Cru Bourgeois. When I first learned of the classification, I thought of it as rather odd--I had most often heard the word &ldquo;bourgeois&rdquo; used as almost an insult, meaning to demean someone as having a &quot;middle-class&rdquo; small-mindedness approach to life (in fact, I always thought of the classic play by Moli&egrave;re, Le bourgeois gentihomme, which certainly did not maintain that being &quot;bourgeois&quot; was a good thing).</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> In fact, &ldquo;bourgeois&rdquo; simply means &quot;of the bourg&quot; or &ldquo;of the town&quot; and in the case of Cru Bourgeois it indicates that the wines are accessible for the masses (i.e., not ridiculously expensive).</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The classification was initially drawn up in 1932 and included 444 Ch&acirc;teaux. It remained unchanged until 2000 when there was an attempt to reclassify the wines. And close to 500 Ch&acirc;teaux applied for the classification. After three years of work, just about half of the applicants were accepted and they were classified into three tiers: Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel, Cru Bourgeois Superieur, and Crus Bourgeois.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> In true French fashion, however, those that felt slighted by the new classification sued, and in 2007, the entire system was scrapped. Those pesky Bordelais did not relent, though, and in 2010 introduced Cru Bourgeois not as a classification, but a mark of quality (and thus somehow skirting, at least for now, legal challenges). All wines from the M&eacute;doc could apply to have their wines judged by an independent body based on production and quality standards. 290 wines from the 2008 vintage were submitted in 2010 and 243 were accepted.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> It remains to be seen if this new approach to Cru Bourgeois will stand, but for now, it does seem to provide the consumer with some guidance when trying to find a quality Bordeaux wine at a reasonable price. I recently tried the following Cru Bourgeois wines, all of which would be welcomed on my table any time.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2009 Ch&acirc;teau Haut Grignon Grande R&eacute;serve M&eacute;doc</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em>Retail $25. 67% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot. This wine is not labeled as a &ldquo;Cru Bourgeois&rdquo; on the label, but it has been a Cru Bourgeois since the 2013 vintage. Black cherry and blackberry exude from the deep violet wine along with earth and a touch of forrest floor. Fairly rich on the palate, with great red fruit and richness and it finishes with considerable backbone and tannic structure. This easily has another 4-6 years ahead of it (perhaps more) but it is lovely right now. Outstanding. <strong>89-91 Points.</strong></em></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2009 Ch&acirc;teau Haut-Logat Haut-M&eacute;doc Cru Bourgeois</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em>Retail $22. 45% Merlot, 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc. Deep purple color with a bit of blackberry wafting out of the glass along with a touch of balsamic, but really, even after open a few hours, the wine was rather muted. A different story on the palate with more expressive fruit and depth all the way through to the finish. More proof that the pundits just might have been right about the 2009 vintage. <strong>Outstanding. 90-92 Points.</strong></em></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Ch&acirc;teau Larose Perganson Haut-M&eacute;doc Cru Bourgeois&nbsp;</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em>Retail $20. 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot. 2012 is not regarded as an incredible vintage, but rather a &quot;classic&quot; one, meaning that this vintage is more typical than most. Inky dark in the glass with plenty of cassis, blackberry, and anise on the nose. An interesting wine as there is plenty of fruit, but it is also reserved and even a bit austere. When I have a bottle of wine like this, I kick myself for not drinking more Bordeaux. <strong>Very Good to Outstanding. 89-91 Points.</strong></em></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Ch&acirc;teau Saransot-Dupr&eacute; Listrac-M&eacute;doc Cru Bourgeois</strong></a><br /><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em>Retail $22. Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carm&eacute;n&egrave;re, Merlot, Petit Verdot. A blend of all the classic Bordeaux varieties, with perhaps the most vegetal nose of the quartet, from the least remarkable vintage of the lot. It seems as though U.S. wineries strive to rid their wines of that green pepper on the nose, but I am not entirely sure why, as I feel it aids in the pairing of food. There is also a host of other sensations: black pepper, red berries, and some anise. On the palate, there is fruit, but it is in the second row behind the acidity and the earthiness. You might want to gulp down this wine, but with a shade more introspection, you will be rewarded. <strong>Very Good. 87-89 Points.</strong></em></div><br /> </p> Fri, 10 Jun 2016 00:00:00 -0400 article6802 The Great Wine Grapes of Austria Snooth Editorial <p>It&rsquo;s not shocking to imagine that one of the most overlooked wine regions would also be home to some of the most unnoticed wine grapes. While there is much to say about the wines of Austria, this examination will focus on a handful of the lesser-known Austrian white grape varieties sure to excite white wine lovers everywhere. There&rsquo;s a chance you&rsquo;ve never heard of or tasted some of these grapes, yet each one has a presence in the US market. Austria has built its positive reputation on Gr&uuml;ner Veltliner, the country&rsquo;s most widely planted grape. Austrian Riesling is another fan favorite. These two outstanding varietal interpretations have distracted us from Austria&rsquo;s extensive portfolio of white wines made from underrated &ndash; and underpriced &ndash; white wine grapes. They&rsquo;re not household names just yet, but surely will kindle your curiosity. Read, consider, and secure yourself an outstanding value from your local retailer. Availability and demand suggest it&rsquo;s only a matter of time before these Austrian grapes saturate the wine scene. &nbsp;<br /> </p> Wed, 01 Jun 2016 00:00:00 -0400 article6799 The Ultimate Cookie & Wine Pairing Guide Snooth Editorial <p>You&rsquo;ve been down this crumb-lined road before. Pairing cookies and wine is not a unique endeavor, but that doesn&rsquo;t mean it&rsquo;s an easy one. Sweet wines are an obvious choice, but you&rsquo;ll need to make sure that the sweetness is equal to or greater than that of your chosen treat. The truly intrepid will choose a dry wine, perhaps even a red one. Fruit notes in the wine should be preserved, if not amplified, while acidity must be muted. Pairing wine with savory dishes is a piece of cake, so to speak, compared to pairing wine with sweets. Furthermore, palates and preferences swing like a pendulum. It&rsquo;s a fact of humanity which renders the objectively perfect wine pairing nearly impossible. The goal is to find something that works for the majority of people, most of time. This month, the web&rsquo;s top wine writers are pulling out their best wine pairing skills. Not only will they reveal their favorite cookie, but also share its perfect pairing wine.&nbsp;<br /> </p> Thu, 26 May 2016 00:00:00 -0400 article6796 The Barolo Wine Wars Have Begun John Downes <p>Barolo may be Italy&rsquo;s most famous red but surprisingly it hails from a very small vineyard region. Tucked into the top northwest corner, just south of the medieval town of Alba in the heart the Langhe region of Piemonte, it&rsquo;s barely 8 kilometres wide. The vineyards are breathtaking. The snowcapped Alps form a distant backdrop to a series of hillsides and valleys above the Tanaro river that produce complicated microclimates; by the end of the day dramatic shadow patterns pass over the vineyards blessing the top sites with those all important extra hours of sunshine. The climate is continental, with extended summers and autumns enabling the fickle Nebbiolo grape to achieve sunny ripeness. Tip; avoid Piemonte&rsquo;s brass monkey winter! Barolo is produced from 100% Nebbiolo in eleven communes where generally two soil types rule, namely sandy marls found in the communes of Barolo, La Morra, Cherasco, Verduno, Novello, Roddi and parts of Castiglione Falletto and older sandstone clays that give the remaining four communes of Monforte d&#39;Alba, Serralunga d&#39;Alba, Diano d&#39;Alba and Grinzane Cavour a muscular, tannic style. That said, all top traditionally made Barolos hold onto their classic notes of tar, violets and black cherry backed by mouth- puckering tannins, crisp mouth-watering acidity and mouth-filling alcohol. Italians proudly make their wines to match their amazing food so with this traditionally powerful fruit-tannin-acid balance you can see why they call Barolo the &lsquo;king of wines&rsquo;.&nbsp;<br /> For my anorak readers around the world, an informal &lsquo;cru&rsquo; vineyard status exists amongst the winemakers (pioneered by La Morra winemaker Renate Ratti), so look out for Cannubi, Sarmazza, Brunate, Cerequi, Rocche, Monprivato, Villero, Lazzarito, Vigna Rionda, Bussia, Ginestra and Santo Stefano di Perno on the label. A great way to see the region is to follow the &lsquo;vineyard road&rsquo; as it winds its way through these top Johnny vineyards taking in imposing ancient hill-top castles at every turn. You soon realise that almost every wine village is perched on its own hill!&nbsp;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The Italian wine laws (D.O.C.G regulations) say that Barolo must be 3 years old before bottling, two of them in chestnut or oak; for the &lsquo;Riserva&rsquo; and &lsquo;Riserva Speciale&rsquo; titles, it&rsquo;s four and five years ageing respectively. During a visit to Alba back in the early noughties I tasted the latest Barolo releases&hellip;..shock-horror! These weren&rsquo;t the Barolos I&rsquo;d grown to love. New French oak suddenly appeared on the scene to give untypical in-ya-face toasty vanilla flavours to these classic wines. I didn&rsquo;t realise at the time but the &lsquo;Barolo Wars&rsquo; had begun. &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Things are changing but the war still rages, a Titanic battle between the Traditionalists and the Modernists. The former always have, and always will, age their wines for lengthy periods (some incredibly for 40-50 days) in large wooden vats (botti). The Modernists, on the other hand, go for shiny, temperature controlled stainless steel vats with shorter fermentation periods giving less tannin extraction; 12 months or so ageing in French oak barriques, adds &lsquo;untraditional&rsquo; toasty vanilla flavours to tasting notes.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The latest from the &lsquo;war front&rsquo; is that the two sides are moving towards each other even though they remain far apart; the &lsquo;old boys&rsquo; are ageing for shorter (although still lengthy) periods to retain more fruit whilst the &lsquo;new kids&rsquo; are using fewer new oak barrels thus reducing the toasty vanilla fruit explosions.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> You pays your money and takes your choice but be careful, no matter what style you prefer Barolo doesn&rsquo;t come cheap. You&rsquo;ll need to spend at least &pound;25 ($50) and even then you can be disappointed. The moral of the story? Know the winemakers and which side they&rsquo;re fighting on. Some producers to look out for are Burlotto (Traditionalist), Cavallotto (T), Paolo Conterno (T), Fantino Conterno (Modernist), Mascarello (T), Renato Ratti (T), Rinaldi (T), Rivetti, Reverdito (T), San Biagio (T), Sandrone (M), Scavino (M), Vietti (T) and Veorzio (M).&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> I can&rsquo;t sit on the fence I&rsquo;m afraid&hellip;&hellip;I&rsquo;m a traditionalist, although that said, I&rsquo;m not a fan of Barolo that&rsquo;s lost its fruit languishing in a large vat for weeks on end. So, traditionalists that have taken a touch of modernism onboard get my vote. Why not crack open one bottle of &lsquo;T&rsquo; and a bottle of &lsquo;M&rsquo; with friends this weekend; you&rsquo;ll have a wonderful time comparing these classics and who knows, you could end up as a war correspondent.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em>John Downes, one of only 340 Masters of &nbsp;Wine in the world is a corporate entertainer, speaker, television and radio broadcaster and writer on wine. Check out John&rsquo;s website at <a href=""></a>. Follow him on Twitter <a href="">@JOHNDOWNESMW</a></em></div><br /> </p> Wed, 18 May 2016 00:00:00 -0400 article6806 The Best Ribera and Rueda Wine Pairings in the World Snooth Editorial <p>Don&rsquo;t let anyone fool you: Perfect wine pairings do exist, but you must be mindful of the wine&rsquo;s geography, terroir, and character. Strong indigenous grapes, ideal climate and potent soils make for amazing palate possibilities. The yin and yang of wine regions, Ribera del Duero and Rueda, create the perfect opportunity for stellar food pairings at every kind of meal &ndash; from happy hour tapas to a steakhouse dinner. Meet your ideal mealtime companions: Rueda whites from the Verdejo grape, and Ribera reds made from the Tempranillo grape. Rueda whites put a swing in your step with unmatched acidity and mineral tones. Ribera reds embolden courses with their luscious tannins, smoky richness, and damson fruit flavors. These wines will enhance the perception of your plate&rsquo;s sugars, salts, and acids to create an otherworldly dining and drinking experience. Read on for some of our favorite bottles from both regions and pairing suggestions, recipes included. See you at the table!<br /> </p> Tue, 17 May 2016 00:00:00 -0400 article6805 Thinking Pink: The Intricacies of Making Rosé Nova McCune Cadamatre <p>It&rsquo;s summer. The weather is warm and if you are like me, your thoughts are turning to more white wines rather than the hearty reds of winter. There is one style which is making a statement this season however and that is Ros&eacute;. It&rsquo;s a beautiful mix of the lightness of a white wine with a bit of classy structure hinting of its origins as red wine grapes. In Provence, one of the world&rsquo;s foremost Ros&eacute; producing regions, exports to the US have risen for 12 straight years with rapid growth in 2015 according to the Wines of Provence organization. The sales data from Nielsen also confirms that rose sales have risen not only in volume by over 50% but value as well over 60% for imported Roses. However, the love of Rose is not just a US phenomenon. Approximately 9% of all wine sold in the UK are ros&eacute; wines as well, surprisingly over half of which originate from the US! According to the Drinks Business, over the past 12 years global ros&eacute; consumption has increased 20%!<br /><br /> <br /> Much of this increase arises from ros&eacute;&rsquo;s easy to drink style and ability to so seamlessly pair with foods which require more structure than whites but a lighter body than a red would provide. It also stems from the &ldquo;pink is for women&rdquo; stigma finally being shed as dry ros&eacute;s are being seen as serious wines beyond the sweeter blush styles popular in the 1980s and 90s. So how does Ros&eacute; manage to bridge the worlds between white and red so successfully? The answer lies in several different winemaking techniques, each with their own result which can be used independently or together to achieve a desired style of Ros&eacute;. There are three main ways to make ros&eacute;; Skin Contact and Pressing, Saign&eacute;e, and Blending. &nbsp;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>Skin Contact and Pressing</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> This method is unique because the sole purpose of this method is to make ros&eacute;. Unlike Saign&eacute;e which has some side benefits, this method is employed when a winemaker wants to completely control the amount of structure and color in the ros&eacute; to the fullest. It starts by selecting the desired grape variety. In the south of France, such as Tavel this would be Cinsaut or Grenache. In Spain, it would be Garnacha perhaps with some Tempranillo. In the Loire, Cabernet Franc or Pinot Noir may be employed while in the New World, the entire world of reds are open for experimentation. The next step would be to decide how much color and structure to extract from the skins once the fruit is crushed. Often, this is done right in the press with the skins remaining in contact with the juice from 4 hours to as much as 48. Winemakers then sample the juice to determine the color extraction and texture of the tannins before making a pressing decision. After pressing, the juice is treated like a white wine, meaning that it is settled and racked clean of solids at which point it is put into fermentation. Usually the fermentation temperature is on the cooler side to keep the bright fruity aromas from escaping out of the tank during the process. After that, the wine is stabilized, clarified and put to bottle usually quite early in the year. &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>Saign&eacute;e</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Saign&eacute;e (pronounced Sin-yay) is French meaning &ldquo;Bleeding&rdquo;. In this method, ros&eacute; is usually a side benefit of making a red wine. Many winemakers use the process of Saign&eacute;e to concentrate color, flavor, and tannins in a red wine by bleeding off juice. This reduces the skin to juice ratio in the fermentor and allows for a more intense and robust red. The resulting ros&eacute; can be quite light in color and it usually has minimal tannin extract from the skins since it is completed so early in the process, within a few hours of crushing the fruit. &nbsp;Because of this, blending different saignee wines is very important to create a final and holistic ros&eacute; which will stand on its own. &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>Blending</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Blending to make a ros&eacute; is when a white and a red wine are blended together to make a ros&eacute; wine. The resulting wine can be made in many different styles to suit many tastes and can be combined with the techniques above to layer in complexity and balance in the finished wine. It should be noted, however that blending to make ros&eacute; is not allowed in Europe outside of Ros&eacute; Champagne so this method is primarily employed in New World regions. Blending in additional red wine with skin contact or saignee rose would add additional structure, body, and color while blending in a white wine will reduce color and structure while adding aromatic fruit lift and palate freshness. &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> By using one or more of these techniques, winemakers can change the style of their ros&eacute; to create their own unique statement. From pale salmon to deep rose and light and fresh to serious and structured, there is a ros&eacute; style for every occasion and particular palate. Luckily for all of us, we are just now entering the ros&eacute; season and there are plenty to choose from.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em>Originally from Greer, South Carolina, Nova McCune Cadamatre moved to New York to pursue Horticulture after what began as a research paper on grapevine diseases at SUNY Morrisville turned into a love of wines and vines. Her career started in Pennsylvania where she gained experience with cool climate varietals and traditional method sparkling wine. After moving to the Finger Lakes region of New York she refined her winemaking skills, both as Winemaker&rsquo;s Assistant at the Thirsty Owl Wine Company and as a Viticulture student at Cornell University. After becoming one of the first graduates of Cornell&rsquo;s Viticulture and Enology program in 2006, she moved to California to assume several winemaking roles, gaining diverse experiences in both table and sparkling wines from all areas of California most recently as the red winemaker for Robert Mondavi Winery in the renowned Napa Valley. She has furthered her knowledge through London&rsquo;s Wine and Spirit Education Trust with an Advanced Certificate in 2007, the Diploma gained in 2010, and is currently pursuing the Master of Wine Certification.Currently, Cadamatre lives in the Finger Lakes, NY with her family where she works as a Winemaker and continues her weekly blog at&nbsp;<a href=""><strong></strong></a>.&nbsp;</em></div><br /> </p> Tue, 10 May 2016 00:00:00 -0400 article6801