Wine Blog Daily Monday 2/19/18

A daily sample of thoughtful writing and discussion from (mostly) independent wine blogs:

cape town

Landscape near Cape Town

Karen MacNeil in her concise, elegant style explains why wine matters.

Tim Atkin reports on the severe drought affecting Cape Town, South Africa.

Alder Yarrow posts the Introduction he wrote to the recently released book of photography, Vineyard Sonoma County by George Rose.

The Wine Gourd turns his data analysis skills to the question of whether wine scores of the same wine by the same critic are consistent over time.

Master Somm Tim Gaiser has some comprehensive advice about aging wine.

Jamie Goode continues his harvest work at Gabrielskloof helping with grape collection from various vineyards.

The Grape Geeks takes a penetrating look at wine clubs from the consumer’s perspective.

Dallas Wine Chick takes a deep dive into the history and practices of Fetzer Vineyards, long a leader in organic farming and sustainable winemaking.

Alfonso Cevola, On the Wine Trail in Italy, uses the occasion of the TexSomm International Wine Awards to reminisce about his early days as a Dallas somm.

Pam Strayer considers the future of the organic wine sector and also announces the program for Demeter’s first International Bio-Dynamic Wine Conference

Selected Reviews:

Meg Houston Maker advises we lay down  the 2014 Passopisciaro Contrada S Terre Siciliane, a Nerello Mascalese from Mt. Etna. She also takes a peak at Foursight Wines Sémillon Charles Vineyard

Fredric Koeppel finds a real bargain in Bordeaux, the Les Hauts de Lagarde 2015, Bordeaux blanc, which sells for about $14.

wineORL explores the emergence of Novello and Ravera, two lesser known townships in Barolo.

Red Wine Please reviews the 2005 from St. Emilion producer Chateau Destieux.

JVB Uncorked finds the  Konzelman Estate Winery 2015 Merlot from Niagara Peninsula, Canada easy to drink.

Simon Wolff discovers a Ribolla Giala orange wine on Long Island NY at Channing Daughters Winery.

Tom Lee finds a seam of goodness in the 2013 Bedrock Wine Co. Zinfandel Carlisle Vineyard.

Allison Levine’s pick of the week is the Fiddlehead Cellars Pink Fiddle a a Rosé of Pinot Noir from Sta. Rita Hills.


To Know a Wine, Try a Little Tenderness



When drinking fine wine, we tend to focus on the intensity and complexity of aromas, the lushness of the texture, how refined the tannins feel, and the length of the finish.  But, thanks to modern wine technology, most of the wine you buy above the $20 price point will have intense aromas and a plush, refined mouthfeel. Lost in our pursuit of power and luxury are more subtle features that are difficult to pin down or describe.

Great wines, even those that are powerful and impress with their size and weight have a gentle, inner beauty that emerges from nuance and subtlety. They have complexity but it’s not doled out all at once and can be sensed only by carefully observing a wine’s motion.”Finesse” is what we usually call it, and many of those industrial wines that seem of high quality don’t have it.

But to discover these dimensions of a wine you have to allow the wine to take control, giving the wine a chance to direct your attention. Like two dancers in sympathetic motion, taster and tastant melt together becoming one, as if we sense in the wine an offering, a generosity that too much aggression or impatience will destroy. Gracefulness really is a form of grace.

Discovering these dimensions of a wine takes time. A cursory tasting, a need to move on to the next flight,  and a calculative frame of mind that attempts to add up a score will not allow them to emerge.

If something hits you over the head, it isn’t nuance. If it screams it isn’t tenderness.

Wine and, according to Otis Redding, young girls share this need for tenderness.

Wine Blog Daily Friday 2/16/18

A daily sample of thoughtful writing and discussion from (mostly) independent wine blogs:

riedels veritas sparkling wine glass

Riedel’s sparkling wine glass

Helping out with harvest, Jamie Goode moves on to pressing and barrel work at south Africa’s Gabrielskloof

The Wine Curmudgeon questions whether we need a special glass in order to enjoy sparkling wine.

Crushed Grape Chronicles has some pairing suggestions for Chinese takeout.

The Drunken Cyclist continues to report on his trip to Alentejo Portugal and finds much to love at at Mouchão.

In honor of the Olympics, Wine-to-Five Podcast geeks out about Greek wine and Soju the national drink of Korea.

Selected Reviews:

Meg Houston Maker found some sweetness in the 2016 Anton Bauer Rosé Feuersbrunn Wagram, an Austrian blend featuring Zweigelt.

Fred Koeppel finds good value in the Selvapiana Chianti Rufina 2015, a Chianti in the traditional style.

1 Wine Dude tastes several wines from Argentina’s Domaine Bousquet.

Allison Levine profiles Languedoc’s Gerard Bertrand and reviews several of their wines.

Aaron Nix-Gomez discovers a real bargain in the  2015 The Way of Wine, Puydeval, Pays d’Oc , a Cabernet Franc dominated blend from the South of France.

Budget Wine Review: Nik Weis St. Urbans-Hof Estate Old Vines Riesling Mosel 2016


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nik weisNik Weiss represents his family’s third generation at the helm of St. Urbans-Hof, which was granted VDP classification in 2000.

Intensely aromatic, impressive flint, nectarine and apple with lime and white flower highlights pop from the glass.

On the palate, an introduction of enticing sweet, round fruit gives way to the Mosel’s characteristic slate-like minerality which provides midpalate lift while encouraging emerging grapefruit notes. A long, refreshing finish of citrus and hints of salinity wrap up this impressive package.

This is an off-dry wine that shows its sweetness early and finishes with savory, crisp, acidity.

An excellent value and an ideal pairing for any dish with some spice and sweetness.

Generous and intense, full of good vibrations but with a cryptic edge, Joni’s Big Yellow Taxi (2007 version) is a match.

Score: 90

Price: $15 (at Bevmo)

Alc: 10%

Wine Blog Daily Thursday 2/15/18


A daily sample of thoughtful writing and discussion from (mostly) independent wine blogs:

castello banfi

Castello Banfi

Jamie Goode ponders whether quality is an intrinsic or extrinsic quality of the wine.

750 Daily has two informative articles, one on the science of Pet Nat and the second on the science of whole cluster.

Levi Dalton interviews Anne Parent of Domaine Parent and Jacques Parent of Compagnie, both based in Pommard.

John Fodora spends a memorable evening at Castello Banfi in Montalcino.

wineOrl makes the case for spontaneous fermentations using native yeasts.

Jo Diaz profiles the master of Petit Sirah Carl Doumani  of ¿Como No?

Selected Reviews:

Aaron Nix-Gomez reviews two from Cahors producer Château Combel-la-Serre.

Jon Thorsen lists the best Tempranillo for under $20.

Meg Houston Maker discovers elegance in the 2015 Ramey Pinot Noir from Russian River Valley.

The Wine Curmudgeon’s Wine of the Week is the very affordable  Mulderbosch Rose.

Tom Lee reviews the 2008 Force Majeure Collaboration Series IV Merlot from Washington State.

Red Wine Please tastes several affordable Rieslings from German producer Heinz Eifel

There are Reasons Why Good Wine is Expensive



stacks of cashFor those inclined to claim that there really is no difference between expensive wine and cheap wine, this symposium at the Unified Wine and Grape Symposium should be enlightening.

Using Cabernet Sauvignon because of its prominence in the marketplace, four different Cabernet wines at four different price points were dissected in a tasting and panel discussion which included Francis Ford Coppola’s Diamond line Ivory Cabernet at the lowest price point of $13, Rodney Strong’s Knight’s Valley Cab at $35, Steven Hills Cabernet from Eastern Washington at $50, and Napa’s Cliff Lede Vineyards Cabernet at $78. Representatives from each winery were present to explain how the wines were made.

The differences were remarkable.

Long story short, the $13 Cabernet was a product of thoroughly mechanized vineyard work, high yields with a single pass through the vineyard taking all the grapes that were available, grapes sourced from several vineyard locations in the state, large scale fermentation with short extraction times boosted by the use of enzymes and tannins softened by micro-oxidation, barrel alternatives (meaning oak chips) to build complexity, with the overall aim being consistency, volume, and speed.

The higher priced Cabs by contrast were a product of hand pruning by trained, experience, sometimes in-house crews. There was some machine harvesting but in many cases the grapes were harvested by hand with several passes through the vineyard over time to ensure optimal ripeness. Grapes were usually harvested at night when temperatures were low to ensure adequate acidity. In some cases the grapes were hand sorted. Fermentations were done in small lots so winemakers had lots of control over the final blend. Macerations were longer and pump-overs carefully calibrated. Real oak barrels, both old and new and often custom built, were used for aging, with the new French oak barrels costing about $1300 each. And the wines were barrel aged sometimes for over 20 months requiring storage space and constant monitoring.

Every step of the production process of the premium wines costs money and the article never mentions the cost of prime vineyard land compared to the cost of land suitable for inferior grapes.

I suppose it could be the case that the premium winemakers are going to all this trouble and expense to maintain the illusion of quality. But that doesn’t sound very plausible does it?

Sure part of the cost of Napa Cabernet has to do with branding and supply and demand. And some expensive wines are not worth their cost. But there are intrinsic costs of fine wine production that explain the much of the quality differences.

To suppose otherwise is to assume a conspiracy theory worthy of Congressional Republicans.

Wine Blog Daily Wednesday 2/14/18


A daily sample of thoughtful writing and discussion from (mostly) independent wine blogs:

cork tree

Cork Tree

Deborah Parker-Wong via Dr. Paulo Lopes, Research and Development Manager at Amorim Cork, dispels some myths about cork and wine storage.

Social Vignerons has a list of the top 40 wine influencers on social media for 2018.

Richard Hemming gives advice about how to write about wine.

Jamie Goode is participating in harvest at Gabrielskoof in South Africa, reporting on vineyard sampling.

Topics for the Wine Curmudgeon today include wine sales in Utah, a craft beer tap room/dog shelter, and Beverage Architects.

Sue Veseth reports on the highlights of the recent Unified Wine and Grape Symposium.


Selected Reviews:

foodwineclick recommends several French wines for Valentine’s Day.

The Drunken Cyclist also has several Valentine’s Day recommendations from Quintessential Wine Importers.

Aaron Nix-Gomez reviews two wines from Ribera del Duero, 2014 Bodegas Protos, Protos ’27 and 2014 Hacienda Monasterio.

Meg Houston Maker reviews Smith-Madrone’s Spring Mountain Chardonnay.

Social Vignerons reviews  the Brancott Chosen Rows Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2015.

Dave Nershi reviews a Pinot Gris and a rosé from California producer Adorada.

Clips and Quips


newspaperFinally, chocolate/wine pairing advice that gets it right. Go sweet or don’t bother.

It’s advantageous to have one less thing to fight about. A study shows that the longer couples are together the more similar their wine preferences are.

As new growth emerges during the spring,  vineyards in Napa and Sonoma will start to reveal how much damage they incurred from the fires.

Here is a good summary of the California Crush Report. Chardonnay tonnage is way down. Maybe people will figure out they should try something else.

A study purports to show that the health benefits of wine are only for the wealthy. Do you think there might be some confounding variables affecting the results?

Bud break in January? THIS IS NOT NORMAL.

To all those people who thought immigration restrictions would open up more jobs for white people, the robots are coming to a vineyard near you.

Are millennials finally learning how to cook? Restaurant sales dip in January.

There is nothing like some unwarranted optimism to keep people motivated. Are Banyuls and Roussillon really the next great French wine regions?

Really? Beer is better to pair with food than wine? An entire article without a shred of evidence for the thesis.  I guess shilling for the beer industry pays well.

Here is more happy talk about wine and health. How much wine would you have to drink to get the effect? On this question, the article is silent.

Wine Blog Daily Tuesday, 2/13/18


A daily sample of thoughtful writing and discussion from (mostly) independent wine blogs:

three-dollar-bill-1The Wine Curmudgeon is out with his eagerly awaited $3 wine challenge for 2018.

Vicki Dennig talks to retailers about how to successfully co-market food and wine.

Bob on Sonoma summarizes the California state wide crush report for 2017.

Eric Annino reviews The Wine Economist Mike Veseth’s book Around the World in Eighty Wines.

The Intrepid Wino interviews Tasmanian producer Steve Lubiana from Stefano Lubiana Wines.

The Wine Detective Sarah Ahmed has a comprehensive report on the Riesling Riot tasting in Melbourne showing Riesling from around the world.

Wine on VI recommends several Instagram accounts from which to explore global wine culture.


Selected Reviews:

Cyndi Rynning tells the story of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue and finds several high end wines, including a Don Melchor Cab, that evokes similar emotions.

Michelle Williams has several sparkling wine recommendations to make your Valentine’s Day sparkle.

For Valentine’s Day, Fredric Koeppel recommends the very affordable Domaine Paul Mas M Côté Mas Blanc de Blancs Brut, from France’s Côteaux du Languedoc.

L.M. Archer, The Hedonistic Taster, has four French wines on the lighter side that would do fine for Valentine’s Day.

Jon Thorsen highly recommends the 2014 Silkbush Mountain Vineyards Altitude, a red blend from South Africa.

Jo Diaz reviews a Prosecco and a Spumante Rosé from Bervini 1955 located in Friuli-Venezia Giulia.

Wine Review: Locations TX 6, Texas Red Wine NV



locationsWine should not be about fruit alone. Some winemakers go fruit crazy, often ignoring all the other aromas that can grab our attention and make us wonder how grapes can do that. So I immediately fell in love with this wine because of the distinctive aroma.

TX 6 is made by Dave Phinney, founder of Orrin Swift Winery and creator of “The Prisoner”, one of the best known wine brands in the U.S. Phinney’s recent project, Locations, is built around the idea of buying fruit from the best vineyard locations in a particular region and blending wines that represent the region’s distinctive character. For TX 6, Phinney has partnered with Kim McPherson of the legendary McPherson Cellars in Lubbock, Texas to make this blend of Grenache, Mourvedre, Syrah, Carignan and a small quantity of Bordeaux varietals.

If you’re surprised to see a world class winemaker working with Texas fruit, don’t be. I recently returned from three weeks of tasting in Texas, and the region has enormous potential that has matured enough for the rest of the world to take note.

On this intriguing, distinctive nose, a meaty, salami-like aroma plays well with herbal and black pepper notes in support of red plum. The palate is juicy and round right from the git go with surging acidity at midpalate giving the wine lift. Sleek tannins emerge slowly but firm up nicely lengthening the finish that shows good fruit power throughout. From plush beginnings the wine develops backbone and verve yet never loses its sweet disposition. It sees only neutral oak and is untainted by overt wood. A well crafted wine and and a good value.

Irresistibly charming but insouciant and roguish, it has the same beguiling quirkiness as Lily Allen’s Not Big

Score: 90

Price: $24.99 (Purchase Here)

Alc: 14.2%

Review based on an industry sample.