As we enter the final phase of summer, there is still ample opportunity to fire up the grill, savor a glass of wine and relax on the patio with friends. This might be the ideal opportunity to indulge in the comforts of a spice-rubbed leg of lamb with a robust Zinfandel or perhaps a chilled glass of Sauvignon Blanc or rose´ alongside a wood grilled halibut with lime butter sauce. The best advice might be to keep it simple while basking in the warm outdoor weather and catching a glimpse of sunset.
2020 Bordeaux En-Primeur
Given the continuing pandemic, it was unlikely that many would attend this year’s En-Primeur tasting in Bordeaux, France to review the 2020 wines. Despite the adversity, Bordeaux producers were optimistic of the quality of their wines and chose to ship samples internationally for remote tastings.
The outcome was not a simple hyperbole, but more of a defining moment in the history of Bordeaux as the acclaimed wines from the 2020 vintage succeeded in securing their status in the Triple Crown. This year’s success comes on the heels of two previously noteworthy and collectable Bordeaux vintages from 2018 and 2019.
Have you ever considered why red blends continue to dazzle consumers and remain one of the hottest trends in the wine market? Perhaps it is their eye catching, colorful labels with quirky, offbeat names that you will immediately remember or may want to quickly forget. There is Fat Bastard, Mad Housewife, Broke Ass, Sassy Bitch and too many others to mention in a short piece. Admittedly, the names can be amusing, but what lies underneath can be quite serious
21st Century Riojas
Spain is a captivating country of mountainous landscapes, lush fertile plains and Mediterranean seascapes. In the countryside there is a mosaic of unique soils and varying microclimates that make Spain a paradise for grape growing. There are the elegantly styled, textured reds of La Rioja, robust, mouth-filling reds from Priorat and Ribera del Duero, old vines renditions from Toro and the bold, inky wines of Monastrell from Jumilla. Alongside, are a collection of light bodied, citrus-driven whites of Albarino, aromatic Verdejo’s and mineral scented Godello’s, complimented by refreshing rosado (rose’), and finely tuned sparkling Cava’s. Let’s not forget the nutty and complex, aged Spanish Sherries, which predate the Roman Empire, from the town of Jerez. Of these notable growing regions
A Worldly Celebration of Pinot Noir
There are few destinations in the world where you can fully immerse yourself in the culture and community of finely crafted Pinot Noir. In the United States this sweet spot is
Willamette Valley, Oregon. On July 26-28 the 33 rd International Pinot Noir Celebration (IPNC) commenced in the heart of Willamette Valley on the Linfield College campus in McMinnville, Oregon. A yearly pilgrimage for Pinot Noir enthusiasts, the 2019 IPNC attracted 830 participants along with many of the most well respected winemakers and pioneers of Pinot Noir in the world. Since its inception in 1987, IPNC has attracted over 17,535 wine enthusiasts to this acclaimed wine-growing region. Seventy-eight featured wineries representing Burgundy, Austria, Alsace, Champagne, Germany, New Zealand, Canada and Chile along with Oregon and California, participated in this three-day venue.
Oregon Chardonnay Gains World Acclaim
Why has there been an increasing fascination, and of course consumption, of Chardonnay from Willamette Valley, Oregon? Statistics reveal that this grape in the near future may overtake Pinot Gris as the second most widely planted grape in the state. In all likelihood, Pinot Noir will always hold the coveted number one spot. The charisma of this varietal is well-known among Oregonians, yet interest in this grape is spreading beyond their borders. The resurgence of interest in Chardonnay from Willamette Valley may be attributed to factors including clonal selections, geographical vineyard location, advances in vineyard management and winemaking techniques. More importantly, consumers have been attracted to this cool climate grape in Oregon because it is lively and expressive, laced with minerality and mixed with an overflow of stone yellow fruits.
Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Unveiled
One of the most frequented travel destinations in the world with nearly 500 wineries laced throughout the valley floor and mountainside, Napa Valley is a captivating and romantic indulgence. It combines casual elegance, culinary genius and an endless sensory experience of artisan wines in which Cabernet Sauvignon dominates.
A little more than an hour across the Bay Bridge from San Francisco, you enter the narrow corridor of Highway 29 guiding you through the soul of Napa. Nestled between the Mayacamas Mountains on the west and the Vacas Range on the east, the visual splendor of rolling hills and lush green vineyards of the valley stretches 30 miles long.
The Essence of Champagne
Champagne is a name bestowed on a prestigious winegrowing region that resides 93 miles northeast of Paris. This expansive enclave has a reserved character that is steeped in Old World history. It is a community of understated elegance with a geographic identity that extends beyond any other province in the world. The historic perspective of Champagne dates back to the 5th century when the Romans excavated deep mines into the rigid chalk and limestone soils that encircle the city.These caves, called “crayeres” served as a protective lifestyle for the city of Reims and the French underground during the wars of 1914-1918. Within a community of markets and hospitals, quarries protected soldiers and residents during the German invasions. The subterranean matrix of tunnels is cool and dimly lit with high cathedral-like ceilings that dwell 125 feet below ground. Ruinart was one of the first Champagne houses to use these ancient cellars for the aging and maturing of their cuvées.
The Pedigree of
Russian River Valley
While some are familiar with the intricate flavor profile of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, most are unaware of the grandeur and distinction these wines can achieve in Russian River Valley. Russian River Valley is an idyllic growing region along the northwest coastal fringes of Sonoma County. It’s close proximity to the Pacific Ocean favors a fog-laden grape growing region with redwood forests set as a backdrop. Wines from Russian River Valley are often referenced to as Burgundian in style, as they are among the most captivating of worldly wines with a spectrum of aromatic red and black spices framed with complex minerals and textures.
Far from Ordinary
This winter, Australia has been much on my mind. After watching news report after news report about the devastating fires which seemed to encircle the entire continent/country of Australia, and hearing of the decimation of so many of Australia’s iconic animal species, I was being constantly reminded of things that I had seen and experienced in my travels to this unique country.
For decades, much of the general public had perceived the wines of Australia as essentially two varieties: Chardonnay and Shiraz (usually with labels that have some sort of cute animal prancing around.) As we got more comfortable with wines coming from such an exotic place, we were then suddenly surprised to find that winegrowing in Australia didn't just start in the 1970's! Imagine that!
Essential Whites for Summer Sipping
Given the circumstances, it may be difficult to think of anything outside of the spread of Covid-19. We are overwhelmed by statistics and the illness that surrounds us in our state and local communities. It may be time to step back and reflect on our good fortune and blessings, memories from the past and the friendships we've shared. We can look forward to creating new experiences and be cautiously optimistic about the near-term future. Aside from our immediate concerns, we may benefit by looking to the horizon as the emergence of summer is upon us.
During these times, I find myself consuming less wine with the companionship of others, yet I am happily partaking in virtual tastings. Needless to say, I dare to imagine the summer solstice when hopefully we will gain some normality in our lives.
The Grandeur of Bordeaux
This year unfolded in an unusual fashion with the global pandemic. As events and gatherings were canceled around the world, time also stood still in Bordeaux, France. Usually in late March, a pilgrimage of over 6,000 people, most of whom are wine professionals and journalists, converge on Bordeaux for an early preview tasting of wines that are still resting in barrels. In this case it was the wines from the 2019 vintage. Referred to as en-primeur, this glimpse of quality sets the tone for worldwide interest as scores are assessed and prices are etched in stone soon afterwards. Due to Covid-19, this year’s en-primeur venue in Bordeaux was placed on pause.
Rose´ Throughout theYear
The popularity of rose´ continues to surge in the U.S. as it may well become the fashionable beverage of choice throughout the year. Americans have an unquenchable thirst for rose´ with young consumers sharing the greatest interest in these visual beauties. It has been referred to as the “Champagne of Millennials.” Although wine sales in restaurants have declined since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, taking up the slack have been increases in retail and online purchases as people choose to dine in at home.
Natural Treasures of Tuscany
Tuscany is a picturesque countryside with a romantic identity that can never be forgotten. Its capital is Florence, the birthplace of the Renaissance and the cultural revolution of scholars and influential artists of Donatello, Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. Outside this historic enclave is the inescapable beauty of lush rolling landscapes, olive groves and stunning hilltop vineyards surrounded by medieval towns and quaint rural villages such as Greve, Panzano and San Gimignano. Yet, Tuscany is most recognized for its illustrious wines.
A Time to Gather
Together With Wine
As autumn colors disappear, the Thanksgiving holiday is quickly upon us. It is a cherished time of year as we gather at the dinner table to express our gratitude with our family and celebrate an all-American feast. Instinctively, wine is chosen as the essential catalyst for these bountiful seasonings. While some might insist that you adhere to steadfast rules with regard to what is poured alongside an oven roasted fowl, it is more a matter of balancing flavors, occasionally with some minor adjustments, while walking the line and pleasing the relatives.
Champagne & Holiday Wine Buying
I can’t help it. Whenever the Winter Holidays approach, I begin to really crave wines that are loaded with bubbles. It’s not that I don’t like them during the other seasons, but there is just something about bubbly and the ending of another year that makes me feel somewhat like the Roman god, Janus. I find myself looking both backward to the past and forward to the future. (If THIS year, 2020, doesn’t make you want to look forward to the future, I’d like to have some of whatever you’re having...)