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.

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

Wine Blog Daily Monday, 2/12/18

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

calabria-map

Calabria

The Wine Gourd takes a deep dive into the statistical relationship between wine quality and production levels.

Alfonso Cevola, On the Wine Trail in Italy, touts the virtues of the wines of Calabria, a destination that even many Italians avoid.

Jamie Goode helps out with the harvest at South Africa’s Gabrielskloof winery.

Karen MacNeil interviews publicist Tom Wark about the travesty of the three tier wine distribution system and Wine Freedom, a consumer advocacy group.

The Wine Doctor has pictures of the 2017 harvest in Vouvray including the highly regarded Le Clos Vineyard.

A Must Read interviews Napa producer Faith Armstrong-Foster of Onward Wines and features her Pet Nat.

Meg Houston Maker at Terroir Review writes about some of the difficulties in reviewing young wines that lack maturity.

Ann Bousquet of Argentina’s Domaine Bousquet explains how altitude affects wine at Jon Thorsen’s Reverse Wine Snob blog.

Selected Reviews:

Austin Beeman tastes a vertical of Martinelli’s Jackass Hill Zinfandel.

Cyndi Rynning reviews several wines from Willamette Valley’s Grochau Cellars.

Fredric Koppel begins his foray into 2017 Rosé with Cline Cellars Ancient Vines Mourvèdre.

Issac Baker at Terroirist reviews several white wines from Michigan producer Brengman Brothers.

Miquel Hudin profiles winemaker and Master of Wine Norrel Robertson, and reviews his El Escocés Volante El Puño Garnacha 2013

Tom Lee reviews the 2016 The Pines 1852 Old Vine Zinfandel.

Julien Miquel finds a lot to like including some unusual flavors in this 2014 Château de Pommard Clos Marey-Monge Monopôle, Burgundy Pinot Noir.

Tim Lemke at Cheap Wine Ratings rates highly the Domaine Bousquet, Gaia, Tupungato White Blend

Consistency is the Hobgoblin of Little Wines

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To Mediocrity?

It’s probably not true that everything can always get better. Once decline or senescence sets in, it may be impossible to reverse. But for those things in life that are still healthy and vibrant, they can usually get better. Given sufficient resources we can usually find a way to improve them. So it is with wine. Take your favorite wine or winery. As good as they may be, surely it’s possible for them to improve the quality of their product.

This is why it makes no since to give wines a 100-point score. It implies that no improvement is possible.

Of course improvements may not be easy and may not be linear. It may be necessary to take a step back in order to move forward. But there is never a reason, apart from senescence, to assume that improvement is out of the question.

But this general truth that most things can improve makes me suspicious of wineries that aim at consistency every year. When I see that I immediately suspect they’re complacent, too happy with where they are. If you’re not struggling to improve you simply will not keep up with the competition.

The struggle to improve is always a struggle for originality and individuality. That is incompatible with the search for consistency.

This makes me wonder about cult wines with a 10 year wait to get on their allocation lists. They have every incentive to rest on their laurels. But if you set the standard, if you’re the benchmark, imitators will proliferate and some will probably succeed. It takes remarkable individuals to resist that complacency.

Wine quality is as much about distinctiveness as it is some sort of scale of deliciousness. It is admirable when producers turn out great product year after year. But what we should be asking is whether they’re becoming more distinctive or more predictable, beginning to slip into a self-imposed mediocrity by playing it safe.

This is why I love winemakers who are constantly experimenting, dissatisfied with what they’ve done in the past.  Not every experiment works of course but it’s the only way to move forward. A winery without experimental projects is a winery in decline. And when you visit a winery you can usually sense how much excitement is directed towards innovation.

 

 

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