Daily Wine News: Aged Burgundy

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 05-25-2012

Uploaded to flickr by craig.camp.

In the Purely Domestic Wine Report (the new publication from Doug Wilder), an excellent piece on  old-vine vineyards in Sonoma County and the Historic Vineyard Society.

On the blog for Maison Ilan, a great post from Ray Walker on the rewards of cellaring Burgundy.

From Cloudwine, a fascinating series of short interviews with Jean-Louis Chave. (H/T: Eric Asimov.)

Looking for a history lesson on one of the most influential men in wine? Wine Spectator published an article about the “Prince of Vines” in Bordeaux. It’s a great read!

The debate over alcohol levels continues. Check out W. Blake Gray’s take on the “balance backlash.” Where do you weigh in?

In the Wall Street Journal Europe, Will Lyons profiles filmmaker Jonathan Nossiter, who just released “Mondovino: The Series,,” an extended version of the original documentary.

It’s rosé season and if you’re searching for an interesting bottle, there’s a nice review here. Take their advice and try the Arnot Roberts rosé. It’s stunning.

In the Wall Street Journal, Lettie Teague highlights two New York restaurants that have “put together [wine] lists that aren’t encyclopedic and yet still manage to offer plenty of interesting choices that match the menu as well.”

Over on 1WineDude, an interesting piece on the wines of Beechworth, “which represents a side of Ozzie wine that few Americans ever get to see.”

The Associated Press tackles the challenge of “trail-ready” wine options.

My California Pinot Epiphany

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 04-05-2012

I hate the idea that Californian Pinot producers are “correct” when their wines taste Burgundian and those that produce brighter, fuller wines are “incorrect.” Despite favoring Burgundian Pinot Noir over all comers, I think the comparisons aren’t as important and necessary as people want them to be.

But there comes a time when I have to give credit to a winemaker that makes even the most biased Burgundy apologists blush.

I first came across Clos Saron through internet chatter and their inclusion in the movie Wine From Here. The winemaker, Gideon Bienstock, had been with Renaissance Winery before leaving to begin his own project in the Sierra Foothills. He’s discovered, potentially, one of the most exciting terroirs for Pinot Noir in all of California. If you google the vineyard location in Google Maps, you might be as shocked as I was about how high up in the foothills this place really is!

How is it possible for Pinot to actually ripen up there?

Gideon is a vocal advocate of minimizing his direct involvement, as winemaker, in the winemaking process. Sounds funny, right? He doesn’t filter, adds as little SO2 as possible, farms organically, and the result is a wine that is beautifully elegant and balanced.

I recently had his 2005 Texas Hill Road Pinot Noir and was blown away by its finesse and elegance. The red fruit was cool, there were nice mushroom undertones, and a subtle meatiness. Despite all of the vivid flavors, the wine was weightless and silky — my nirvana. After my bottle of the Texas Hill Road Pinot was emptied, I dawned on me that I had just had the best Pinot Noir from California of my lifetime.

I’m looking forward to drinking more from Clos Saron and encourage our readers to seek out their wine.


BREAKING NEWS!!!! Rudy Kurniawan Arrested by FBI

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 03-08-2012

It was recently reported in the New York Times that controversial collector and businessman Rudy Kurniawan was arrested by the FBI under suspicion of counterfeiting.

Follow the discussion on Wine Berserkers HERE
Read the New York Times article HERE

More on this story as it unfolds.

Where in the World is La Mancha?

Posted by | Posted in Wine Education, Wine Reviews | Posted on 03-01-2012

If I asked you to name the largest wine growing region in Spain, what would you guess? Rioja? Ribera del Duero? Navarra?

Up until a week or so ago, I wouldn’t have had a clue. Who would have guessed it’s La Mancha? With 445,000 acres (695 square miles) under vine, it is not just the largest wine region in Spain — it’s the largest in the world. I don’t spend much time drinking wine from Spain, so I jumped at the opportunity to learn more about the region and its wines through a small tasting.

First some background on La Mancha. Despite being such a large region, I was surprised at how few grape varietals are commonly grown there. Tempranillo, Garnacha, Cabernet, Moravia, Merlot and Syrah constitute the major red varietals while Airen, Macabeo, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay make up the white wines. La Mancha has hot summers with little rain (only 12-16 inches per year) and lots of sun, creating wines with expressive fruit and medium-to-high density.

As I began learning about the region, it became apparent that they’re going through a makeover of sorts. This isn’t new to the Spanish wine industry either. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like every region in Spain has reached out to the American wine consumer over the past 2-3 years with claims of “unbeatable quality-to-price ratios” (a wine consumer’s most coveted metric) and a “new focus on quality over quantity.”

La Mancha is no exception. They seem to be trying to tear down the preconceived notion that they aren’t a serious wine region but in fact can compete with more respected, highly coveted wines of Priorat, Rioja and Ribera del Duero.

I tried six wines from La Mancha, four of which I thought to be very good to excellent, one was flawed, and one missed the mark for me. Check out my tasting notes below the fold. Read the rest of this entry »

Talking Port with Andy Velebil of “For the Love of Port”

Posted by | Posted in Interviews | Posted on 01-27-2012

Happy International #PortDay! Yes, that’s right. Today is the day that we all should take time out of our day to sip on the often misunderstood, often under-appreciated wine from Portugal.

I wanted to track someone down that knows a lot about Port to ask some of the questions that I’ve had over the years.

So I reached out to Andy Velebil from For the Love of Port – an amazing resource for all wine lovers. Having read his contributions to Wine Berserkers over the years, I knew Andy would be able to answer my questions.

Check out our interview below the fold. Read the rest of this entry »

Interviewing Sussex Wines & Spirits

Posted by | Posted in Interviews | Posted on 01-25-2012

Sussex Wine and Spirits

A couple years ago, I realized the value of building personal relationships with wine store staff. In addition to the friendships I’ve built, they’ve opened my eyes to producers and regions that had once been off my radar. It’s now common that I get a text message or email from one of them giving me a tip about a new producer in Jura, or a recently received shipment of pre-phylloxera wines from the Loire.

The role of your local wine shop clerk has never been more important as the quantity and quality of wine coming into our country has never been higher – while the increased selection and quality is great news for consumers, it also presents us with more decisions than ever about who to buy.

One wine professional that I listen to is Jeremy Block at Sussex Wines and Spirits. I’ve never been to the shop and have never met Jeremy in person, but still consider him an invaluable wine guide. I came across Sussex while shopping for some 2009 Coudert Fleurie Clos de la Roilette Cuvée Tardive and was impressed with their selection of many esoteric and harder-to-find wines (they feature a lot of Neal Rosenthal selections) that they had. Over the past year, he’s invested time to understand my stylistic preferences and now proactively reaches out to me now with off-beat suggestions, or tips on new items he’s about to stock. Needless to say, I’ve found myself shopping there more and more.

I reached out to Jeremy the other day with some questions about his wine background, current muses, and vision for Sussex wine – his answers are below. Read the rest of this entry »

New Year’s Eve in Las Vegas

Posted by | Posted in Wine Events | Posted on 01-04-2012

It’s noon on New Year’s Eve in Las Vegas and my mini-quest to review Las Vegas wine bars begins where most conversations end on this topic: Lotus of Siam.

Situated off the strip on Sahara Blvd, it’s located in a grungy strip mall surrounded by other Thai restaurants and the famous swingers club The Green Door. If you’re staying on the strip it’ll be around a $10 taxi ride. I’ve been coming here regularly for the past two years, and outside of Bern’s Steakhouse in Tampa, I believe it features the best wine menu in the country. Being a Thai restaurant, the menu has copious amounts of German Riesling — the classic pairing with the traditionally spicy fare.

If Riesling isn’t your thing, don’t worry as Lotus has large selections of wines from Italy, California, Burgundy, Bordeaux, the Rhone and Spain. The best tip I can offer is to talk to your server about what wine pairs well with the food you’ve selected (or vice versa). Their staff is well trained at arranging affordable, spot-on pairings for their customers. I’ve asked my server for a $40/person bill that features three dishes and two glasses of wine and was quickly served with a couple Northern Thai noodle dishes, a 2007 Spatlese from J.J. Prum and Muller-Catoir.

La Cave in the Wynn

After Lotus of Siam, I traveled with my girlfriend to the Wynn to try La Cave — a new concept bar/restaurant from Michael Morton. In a city of massive, deafening restaurants, this space is intimate and subdued. It’s decorated with a very modern style and features indoor and patio seating.

Despite being the final day of 2011, we sat outside in the beautiful 68 degree weather. Their menu features small plates, a number of interesting wine flights, and an interesting wine list. I’m always looking for innovative wines-by-the-glass program, and the team at La Cave seem to take theirs seriously. Offering up wines like the 2006 Ca’ Marcanda (Gaja) Magari Toscana IGT or the 2006 Philip Togni Cabernet Sauvignon provides customers with exciting options. Being New Year’s Eve, we opted for a 375ml of the 2007 Schramsberg Blanc de Blanc Brut for $32 and a couple of small plates. While the wine list was impressive for such a small place, they really under-performed in the food department with a clunky stuffed chicken plate and a pedestrian tomato/mozzarella flatbread. I look forward to visiting this place again. Read the rest of this entry »

#WA 198 Shows Galloni Isn’t Parker

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 12-29-2011

Wine Advocate critic Antonio Galloni

I, for one, was glad to hear the news that Antonio Galloni was taking over for Robert Parker in reviewing Californian wines. For those of us familiar with Galloni’s preferences, his latest reviews in Issue 198 of The Wine Advocate (subs. req) do not come as much of a surprise. They should, however, serve as another indicator that structure and balance are cool again.

The online wine world has been abuzz about Galloni’s reviews over the past week — picking apart the scores, comparing them to previous marks by Parker, and even panicking that no 100 point scores were awarded.

W. Blake Gray and Alder Yarrow both argued that the reviews were essentially unchanged from Parker. I think they’re right — but only if you look strictly at numbers. If you look at Galloni’s notes on 2010, especially his commentary on wineries like Hourglass (“distinctly sweet and alcoholic”), Corison (“shows lovely delineation and pure, understated class”), or the fact that Robert Foley’s 2009 wines didn’t show well enough to make the issue (these have historically been 90 – 99 pt wines for Parker in the past), there are clearly changes. Read the rest of this entry »