Chateau d’Yquem

chateau-yquem

No one ever said wine folks are classy. This photo, by City Paper’s David Snyder was taken at Chateau d’Yquem in Bordeaux during our annual Cru Wine Club trip. Some people are awed by the prestige of visiting a 1st Growth winery. More often than not, wine school folks will hatch a practical joke. .

Celebrate Bastille Day and author Michael Steinberger

New Yorkers! Come and meet Mike Steinberger on Tuesday night for Bastille Day Launch Party Reading and reception for his book Au Revoir to All That: Food, Wine & the End of France wines: d’oupia and J-P Brun’s beaujolais blanc …..AND—Mike’s terrific. 12 West 19th Street New York, NY 10011 (212) 414-8888…

A Glass A Day Keeps Alzheimers At Bay

As with all studies of wine and your health moderate consumption is key, this time to reduce the risk of contracting Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers at Wake Forest University in North Carolina found that the participants that had 1 to 2 glasses of wine per day of the group of over 3,000 seniors over 75, […]

The German Burghound?

Jean Fisch and David Rayer have created a wonderful Burghound-like newsletter of all wines in the Mosel. Over the July 4th holiday Jean Fisch e-mailed it to me and I was very very impressed by it. It is so hard to find accurate unbiased information on the new German vintage. Rudi Wiest and Terry Thiese are importers so they have to sell wine and their reports can be entertaining and fun to read but the bottom line is they need to sell wine. Sorry guys. Then some proactive retailers who have a specialty for German wines will issue their vintage reports and again while being informative they are trying to sell wine so they cannot be looked at for good unbiased reviews. Then there is the always wonderful Claude Kolm, who I love, but does not get enough attention. His reviews are usually timely but do focus all over Germany and not just to the Mosel, which is like the Vosne-Romanee of Germany. David Schildknecht is brilliant as we all know but is not known for the timeliness of his reviews or vintage assessments, especially since he joined the Wine Advocate, which ranks German wine right up there with Loire VDSQ appellations and international varietals in Georgia. I like Bruce Sanderson of Wine Spectator but again the timeliness is an issue and the Wine Spectator does not tend to go into the depth I like.

So that leaves the wonderful Mosel Fine Wines which I cannot say enough good things about. Anybody who has followed Jean and David’s postings on various wine bulletin boards over the years knows these guys mean business when it comes to German wine and Mosel wine in particular, plus they both have the advantage of living in Europe and each of them has long established relationships with the growers. The writing is clean and concise with no extra flowery prose and no hyberbole, which I do not like in critical analytical wine writing. If you hyperbolize everything ultimately everything you write becomes meaningless. Their distribution is free. Yes free. I could not believe it myself. There is no paper edition only a PDF, which is great as print journalism is on its last legs anyway.

So if you are a Mosel Wine geek/aficionado/enthusiast I cannot recomend a better publication.

Nikolaihof, Gruner and Austria; part #1

At one time Grune Veltliner was poised as wine’s next coming. The sexiest wine on the planet. I purposely forgot about the wine and the grape over the years. Too much disappointment. Same old story. The wine suffered from th New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc syndrome–no identity, all of that green bean shit. Where was real Gruner? Yeasted out of its life. Eric Asimov just spent some time discussing Gruner’s disappointments in his column and blog. I’m certainly not alone. Then at this winter’s Return to Terroir tasting I became reacquainted with the wines of Nikolaihof. My first note? **Removes all bad Gruner from memory. Then I got more specific. ’08 NIKOLAIHOF HEFEABZUG–very fresh. apple. complex finish. vibrant. straight to the gut with no interference. silver and floral ’06 NIKOLAIHOF IM WEINGEBIRGE Smaragd trocken–electric. licorice. subtle pineapple. (In part 2 of this post we’ll come back to this word, electric) ’08 GV M WEINGEBIRGE, federspiel Gorgeous acidity, lively dancing, deep, herbal and pepper. So, obviously I’m all over those wines. Not ‘over’ the wines, but ‘all over’ them. When I tasted the Steiner Hund vineyard riesling, and I’m likewise smitten. Need to taste more, I thought. Then TT and the Austrian…

Red wine powder, fraud, art exhibit, Lance – sipped and spit

trekneatrougeSIPPED: Desperation!
The Swiss water purification company, Katadyn, has a wine-like product for non-discriminating, thirsty trekkers. They market a red wine powder that hikers can take on the trail, add some of their purified water, and voila, wine! Only they won’t call the 8% alcohol drink “wine,” mostly because the association of Chianti producers has complained. Katadyn’s defense: “We are well aware that we’re not even permitted to call the product wine. No grapes were used in its production, it’s simply a product that is flavored to taste like wine.” Coming next year: powdered beer. [Der Spiegel]

SPIT: family relations
Gary Heck of Korbel has sued his daughter, Richie Ann Samii, for defamation in postings on Craigslist. She denies the allegations in the Sonoma Press Democrat. The two are also involved in legal maneuverings over a multimillion dollar stake in the company.

SIPPED: fraud
Why do the empty wine bottles that fetch the highest prices on eBay correlate with those that are the most expensive and presumably authentic when full? An academic study (in progress) suggest counterfeiting. [Freakonomics]

SPIT: fraud
Researchers at the University of Bourgogne in Dijon have developed a way to track the barrels used for aging a wine: using a mass spectrometer. Each forest has an identifiable fingerprint for its lumber and that can be traced for 10 years after leaving the barrel. The researchers suggest that it could prevent fraud in wine, passing off a less expensive wine as a pricey one. But perhaps its best use might be to track whether the barrels came from the same pricey forest they claim to be from–or a low cost competitor. [New Scientist]

SIPPED: Wine paraphernalia on display
The Art Institute of Chicago has a two-month exhibit called “A Case for Wine: From King Tut to Today.” They describe the exhibit as the first of its kind at “tracing this beloved libation’s surprisingly significant role as a stimulus and source of artistic endeavor.”

SIPPED: red wine in the Tour
And if you were third overall in the Tour de France, what would you imbibe the evening before the rest day? Check out Lance Armstrong’s tweet for his answer: “Made it to Limoges…Gonna have dinner, drink a glass of red wine, talk to my kids, and crash out!!” Hopefully it was the real deal and not the Katadyn “wine” powder.


The State of English Wine

Over the past decade the UK has been developing a reputation for its sparkling wines. Over here in the US, people tend to snort at the thought of British wine, at first, but then after considering the relative latitudes and the weather to that of Champagne start to see its potential. Throw global warming into the mix and suddenly the UK seems a sure bet for the next great region.

In reality the terroir is not the same, the soils tend to be different and the weather is too. What I learned was that the UK does best when embracing its own style, and not merely emulating that of its more famous neighbors.

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For all the noise over British sparkling wines a few things were apparent:

– Firstly, wine in the UK is still a niche industry. With a nationwide annual production of around 2.5 million bottles, it would take decades to for each British citizen to enjoy just a single bottle.

– Secondly, and this follows from the above, retail and restaurant support/presence is meager. With such low production I can understand why the large supermarket chains are unable to sell local wines, but I struggled endlessly to find a single store that sold British wine (final thanks went to Sainsbury’s, but the experience was hardly pleasant, as we found the bottle after 30 minutes of searching the shelves), and the only restaurant I went to that had British wines had a French Sommelier who tried to advise me against buying local!

– Thirdly, if you’re fortunate enough to have the opportunity to try British sparkling wine, you may be very impressed. Try a white, they are interesting, pair well with food and some are very good. However, skip the reds. A major generalization, of course, but the ones I tried were disjointed, green, very woody and not to my liking. The UK simply does not have the weather for the grapes o achieve sufficient ripeness to produce good reds.

Some of my favorites:

> Camel Valley Ltd Brut Cornwall 2006, £19 ($30)
“Camel’s flagship sparkler. Made with Seyval, this sparkling wine exhibits firm acidity and a fine bead, which swells into an excellent mousse of bubbles in the mouth. There’s a slight almond character which plays well with the peach and biscuit notes. Smooth mid-palate with a light summery strawberry finish. Light hay on the nose. Very nice.”

> Chapel Down Sainsbury’s English Sparkling Wine Rose NV, £30 ($47)
“British sparkling wine – almost as rare as a 4 leafed clover. Obviously i had to try it…Pale salmon color, large bubbles, light berry and yeasty nose, low acid but not flabby. Nice fruits with a medium finish. Also, an interesting selection of grapes.”

Wine, Harborside, with Benefits

How can you beat that combo – wine, water and benefits? I am giving you lots of notice – the first annual Kitsap Wine Festival will be held on Sunday, Aug. 23, at Harborside Fountain Park near the ferry landing in Bremerton. The benefits?

Well, it’s a celebration of beneficial wine … and local food such as Amy’s Chocolates from Bremerton, Crimson Cove Smoked Specialties from Poulsbo and cuisine prepared by Chef Marsha Henry of Kitsap Conference Center and Chef Shawn Walker of Anthony’s at Sinclair Inlet.

Another benefit: if you take the ferry from downtown Seattle, you don’t need a car, because the wine festival takes place right next to the ferry terminal along the marina.

Seriously though, this is the real benefit: a portion of ticket proceeds will benefit Harrison Medical Center Foundation. A worthy cause! Tickets are $45 and can be purchased online or at Kitsap Conference Center.

These are the wineries that will be pouring: Balboa, Camaraderie Cellars, Chateau Ste. Michelle, DiStefano Winery, Domaine Ste. Michelle, Dusted Valley Vintners, Forgeron Cellars, Gordon Brothers Cellars, Hard Row to Hoe, Hightower Cellars, J Bookwalter, Mercer Estates, Novelty Hill, Olympic Cellars, Revelry Vintners, Snoqualmie, SYZGY, Thurston Wolfe Winery, Vin du Lac, Whidbey Island Winery, Yellow Hawk Cellar and Zero One Vintners.

We are definitely going and we hope to see you there! Cheers!

Kitsap Wine Festival

Any day now. . .

my nose will stop dripping and I will be able to breath, speak and smell. In the mean time I wonder if it is possible to capture a bottle image of what I hope this wine will taste of. An arc of lightness, crystal clear, fresh and pristine?

A Reminder About New Zealand Pinot Noir

Wine drinkers who love Pinot Noir and have to watch the bottom line can have a tough time finding good bottles for under $20. I’m not talking about searching for a $15 bottle of Pinot Noir that will rival a $50 bottle from Burgundy or elsewhere. My sights are set lower–I just want a bottle of Pinot that doesn’t taste like liquefied raspberry jam.

This week I got a reminder that New Zealand can be a good source for such bottles, when I opened up a 2006 Catalina Sounds Pinot Noir from New Zealand’s Nelson region ($18.93, Garagiste; available elsewhere for $19-$21).

This was a lovely Pinot Noir for under $20, one that managed to be open and lacy without being weak and insipid. And though it was fruity, it did not have the jammy intensity that I think can ruin Pinot Noir. Instead, the wine had raspberry and mineral aromas and flavors accented by a touch of earthiness that deepened them nicely.

For me, though, it was the texture of this wine that made it stand out. Texture is important to me when I drink Pinot Noir–maybe more than it is for most people. I want my Pinot Noirs to have a seductive silkiness of texture. This wine had it, the silkiness turning gossamer and airy in the aftertaste.

While the wine lacked the complexity to make it truly outstanding, this was a very good QPR bottle–and I would buy another vintage of Catalina Sounds Pinot Noir without hesitation.

And note to self: remember to check out the New Zealand aisle next time Pinot Noir is on the shopping list.

Spies in the House

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from Spy Valley Winery

Spy Valley makes some excellent QPR wines. I’ve been really pleased with everything I’ve tried so far from the line. I’m looking forward to tasting the Gewurztraminer and Pinot Noir that I still have left.  I’m not sure if the Riesling is available in the US as I don’t see it for sale online.  The 2008 Spy Valley Riesling clocks in at 12% alcohol by volume, has a screw cap closure, and looks to retail for around $20.

On the nose i found lemon, spice, white pepper, white flowers, wet stone, and peach.  In the mouth I found peach, pear, lemon, orange, honey tones, stones, and lime on the finish.  The wine was crisp and a really nice effort.  I enjoyed it with grilled chicken marinated in Italian spices, probably not the best match, but it worked.

Posted in New Zealand, Riesling, White, Wine

Friday: GVG and the train

The mystery of how places get their names was solved on Friday. We’d overnighted at Paul Cluver’s small European country cum wine farm, De Rust in Elgin, where Paul had cooked us spaghetti Bolognese and plied us with 2008 vintage Pinot Noir (a great match, foodies). The railway line from Caledon to Cape […]

California, Cat Piss, Saints & Twitter (or “Joe vs. Napa Sauvignon Blanc”)

By all accounts, the is past Saturday’s Twitter Taste Live! event, featuring selections from Napa Valley stalwart St. Supery, was a big success.  Some estimates on the event put the number of twitter event posts at greater than 700 (I’ve not seen any definitive statistics yet), which would likely make it the biggest TTL event to date in terms of raw participation.  Undoubtedly the wide availability of St. Supery wines helped to send this event over the top, in twitter terms.

No matter how you look at it, 700 tweets is a lot of exposure for St. Supery especially when you consider that the participants needed to have the St. Supery wines in order to get the full TTL experience.

During the event, I was pleasantly surprised by St. Supery’s Sauvignon Blanc-based wines.  This is because I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc.  Which is to say, I almost love to hate Napa Valley SB because in my experience they’re way too bloated and flabby to compare with the best efforts from New Zealand and France.  I was beginning to wonder if NV SB was a fad that needed to die, sort of like Napa’s questionable experimentation with Sangiovese-based wines.  Wine geeks often refer to SB’s pungent aromas as “Cat pee,” a term I tend to avoid when describing any wine that other humans might actually want to try, but I made reference to the term during Saturday’s TTL event, when I expressed surprise at home enjoyable the St. Supery SB’s were:

I suppose I expected some measure of challenge to that statement.  I just didn’t expect it to come less than 24 hours after I’d made it…

One such challenge came, appropriately, via twitter.  It was from Michael Silacci, Opus One’s talented and hospitable winemaker (you can read more on my conversations last year with Michael here).  Michael came to the defense of his fellow Napa Valley wine producers, issuing a dare of sorts for me to try Toquade’s SB:

I’m not one to shy away from a challenge, or one to shy away from admitting mistakes, especially if it means I get to try some potentially tasty wines in the process.

So let it be known – if the gauntlet is being thrown, then I’m game for blind tastings of Sauvignon Blanc.

I suppose this means that now I”ve got yet another task on my plate, and that I’ll need to get some samples of Sauvignon Blanc from Napa Valley and elsewhere.  I’ll leave it up to the PR folks reading to consider some wines and contact me for samples.

Just leave the actual cat piss at home, okay?

Cheers!

p.s. – It’s great to see that Rick Bakas, one of our wine blogging own, was brought on by St. Supery to handle their social media duties.  There’s a general feeling of goodwill and positive vibes in the wine blogging community that one of our boys got “made.” Congrats, Rick!

(images: cannedpets.com, 1winedude)

The Spanish Arbequina Olive from DO Montsant: Storing, Serving and Tasting Olive Oil

oliveA few years back, while staying at the Perxe casa rural in La Molina, we were privy to taste our very first Montsant olive oil made from the  Arbequine olive. Sitting at a large wooden table with a loaf of bread, we dipped into the brilliant light jade colored oil, and as we brought the bread to our lips, the overwhelming scent of freshly cut grass filled our heads. The taste was peppery and sweet with a lovely herbal finish that lingered for ages on our tongues.

“What is this?!” we asked enthusiastically of our smiling host.

“Olive oil produced in the area and made with the native Arbequina olive”, she replied with a slight sigh, a question we knew every wide-eyed tourist asked of her.

Scuttering off to the back room, she returned minutes later with an unmarked wine bottle and placed it gently on the table.

“I fill up large jugs at the cooperative up the road, so really, it’s no trouble having you bring some home to enjoy.”

I don’t remember how quickly we consumed that bottle, but I can tell you that it was an unforgettable experience.

Many of you are familiar with Spanish olive oil, having previously swooned over its quality and bright flavors, but others have not, believing that only Italy takes center stage in olive oil production. It is true that Italy is the world’s leading consumer and exporter of olive oil,  but annually, Italians buy up vast quantities of olive oil from Spain and sell it with “bottled in Italy” labels. In the August 13, 2007 issue of the The New Yorker, Tom Mueller alleged that, “For the past ten years, Spain has produced more oil than Italy, but much of it is shipped to Italy for packaging and is sold, legally, as Italian oil”.

This does not mean that Italy doesn’t produce some exquisite olive oil, but it does mean that Spain is clearly a leader in the field, owing much of its success to the region of Jaen, which boasts of owning some of the largest olive groves in the world.

So if I’ve done my job correctly, your interest has now been piqued and you’re willing to head down to your local market and buy up a few bottles of Spanish olive oil, but how do you know what to look for?

olive2Grades of Olive Oil

Ideally, you’re looking for “Extra Virgin Olive Oil” on the label for a few very important reasons. First, the olive oil is obtained by purely mechanical methods, meaning that it is free of any chemical additives. Secondarily, unlike lower grade olive oils,  it can be heated up to 180 degrees Celsius, drained off your pan and used again; whereby making it not only affordable, but also sustainable. Third, it’s fabulous for your health, because it reduces cholesterol and is high in vitamin E. And last, but not least, it’s delicious!

Beyond Extra Virgin, you can also find Virgin Olive Oil, Pure Olive Oil and Olive Oil. Virgin is identical to Extra Virgin, except in its acidity level. While Extra Virgin contain .8% acidity, Virgin clocks in around 2%. Pure Olive Oil and Olive Oil are essentially the same in that they both are a blend of refined and Virgin Olive Oil, but again, the difference lies in the acidity.

Storing and Serving Olive Oil

How many of us know someone who has kept a bottle of olive oil in their cupboard for decades? If I didn’t live in Spain, I most likely would put myself in this category as well; and unfortunately, it is the same mistake we tend to make with various styles of wine, sherry wine not excluded. So let’s try and clarify this.

A few weeks back, while in Montsant, we had the priviledge of meeting Anna Figueras and Joaquim Calvo, a professional olive oil taster, in their home in Torroja. While Joaquim was fixated on his cheesecake, sans cheese, Anna presented us with her book “L’Exira Daurat”. “L’Exira Daurat” is a beautiful coffee table book written in 3 languages about the DO Siurana olive oil culture in the wine appellation of DO Montsant, and commits a section specifically to how one should store their olive oil effectively. As I felt these suggestions were spot on, allow me to present you with the top 7 ways suggested by Anna and Joaquim:

  1. Keep away from light, preferably in opaque packaging. If the bottle is transparent, it is better kept in a box.
  2. Avoid all contact with air and do not shake it. Once the bottle has been opened, it should be eaten [consumed] as soon as possible.
  3. It should be eaten [sic] within the same year, as it grows old with time. [i.e. check bottling date!]
  4. If you can afford it, a small bottle is better than a bigger one.
  5. If you use table servers, please clean them well from time to time. [Here they are referring to pouring spouts or containers]
  6. If you need to store it, the larder [pantry] is better than the kitchen.
  7. If you use it for frying: Wait until it is very hot before adding food. Do not add salt to the food until you have taken it out of the oil (if the recipe allows). Leave it to cool down and filter it when you have finished frying. Re-use it by adding some fresh oil. Change the oil for fresh oil if it starts to smoke or does not look very good.

olive3Tasting Olive Oil

If you read our article on tasting tea, and the nuances in how we taste it, olive oil falls in much the same camp. In olive oil, however, the initial stage of detecting the aroma is a little different than in wine and tea. When tasting olive oil, ideally it should be at 28 degrees Celsius, and you should also have a green apple, which contains high acidity to cut the oil, or a glass of water close by to cleanse the palate. (Geek Alert: if you don’t check the temperature of the oil or have a green apple nearby, the world will not end, continue at your own pace) In a wider glass, pour in the olive oil, cover it with a lid and swirl, so that the olive oil coats the entire glass. Remove the glass and inhale. The rest of the tasting process is identical to that of wine and tea. What is key however is that you do not find the following aromas or flavors when tasting olive oil: vinegar, mold, fermentation, sediment from the bottom of an olive oil tank, rancid, earthy – similar to mold or dirty olive oil.

Another trivia tip is that many bodegas in Iberia either harvest olives or produce olive oil, because the harvest date come directly after the grape harvest, allowing for a second income come winter.

Our suggestion, go out and buy a handful of Extra Virgin Olive Oils from either Spain and do a tasting; pair the olive oils with different wines; or simply, buy a chunk of bread, invite some friends over and lay out a half dozen olive oils to enjoy through the evening.

Tell us your experience!

What is your favorite olive oil? Have you experienced an olive oil tasting?

Cheers,

Gabriella Opaz

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Photo essay: Pouring, pondering, and penning at China National Sommelier Competition

By Jim Boyce
Posts about the China National Sommelier Competition have been, um, pouring onto this blog. Last week I posted the full results as well as an interview with Shinya Tasaki, who oversaw the judging. Next up: photos from the event. And I have a few more posts in the queue…

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Vineyard worker tying down the remaining branches after winter pruning. Bodega NQN Winery, Vinedos de la Patagonia, Neuquen, Patagonia, Argentina, South America

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2007 Point Concepcion “Celestina” Pinot Grigio, Santa Barbara County

celestina_label.jpgI make it my habit to seek out and try a particular kind of wine that flies well under the radar of most wine lovers. Indeed, this kind of wine is all but unknown to most, yet some of my favorite wines in the world fall into this category -- a category that is not included in any book, classification, or encyclopedia of wines anywhere.

These wines have something very special in common. Not the grapes used, nor the soils on which they are grown; not the country they come from, nor the climate in which they are grown. The one thing that all these wines have in common is their color.

They are orange.

Regular readers know that every once in a while I wax poetic about an orange wine here on Vinography. Usually these wines are made by eccentric Italian or Slovenian winemakers, and rarely see the light of day in California. But now and again, orange wines have been popping up in other corners of the world, including right here in California, which is where I stumbled across this little wine almost by accident.

First, a little background on the category of orange wines. Most, but not all, orange wines have historically come from Northeastern Italy and Slovenia, where they have an obscure tradition of making wines of this color by treating white grapes like red ones. That is to say, the winemaking processes for an orange wine are much more like those used to make red wine, in particular the use of extended maceration and fermentation "on the skins."

Maceration is the fancy word for soaking the crushed grape skins and juice together for a period of time before fermentation begins in order to extract color, tannins, and flavor compounds that are trapped in the skins of the grapes. Such cold-soaking is not commonly performed on white grapes, mostly because there is no need to extract color.

Yet color is exactly what you get when you leave white wines on their skins for long periods of time, along with flavors that can truly be otherworldly. And that's why orange wines should be sought out and sampled by anyone interested in broadening their wine horizons.

This particular wine is the product of experimentation by a well known winegrower and winemaker named Peter Cargasacchi. Peter has been growing top quality Pinot Noir in the Santa Rita Hills appellation of Santa Barbara County since 1998, when he planted the vineyard that bears his family name. The fifth generation of his family to live and work in California, but the first to be born here, Peter is carrying on a long family history of farming on the Central Coast of California that stretches back to the 1900s.

Cargasacchi Vineyards have become well known to lovers of Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir, bottled both under Peter's eponymous label as well as in the renditions of many top producers, including Brewer-Clifton, Loring, and Siduri, among others.

Peter and his wife Julia also have a second label called Point Concepcion wines, under which they make a variety of wines, leaving the Cargasacchi label to focus exclusively on Pinot Noir.

In 2005 Peter set out to solve a long standing food and wine pairing problem for himself. Specifically, he couldn't find any wines that he thought paired well with artichokes, asparagus, and other bitter green vegetables. In his opinion, these vegetables needed tannic structure married with acidity, but without red and black fruit flavors. So taking a page from his Italian forbears, he decided to take some of his ripe Pinot Gris grapes and let them soak on the skins for 4 days (as opposed to 4 hours, which would have been normal). During this time he kept fermentation from starting using dry ice (a common technique for keeping the mash of juice and skins below the temperature required for yeast metabolism to kick in), and then pressed off the juice to be fermented in one-year-old oak barrels.

The result is a unique and special wine that, despite landing somewhere between orange and pink on the color scale, most definitely fits into my pantheon of orange wines. Peter has made about 400 cases of this wine each year since his first experiments in 2005 and if we all buy it, maybe he'll keep making it.

I've had the 2008 recently as well, which is just as good as this 2007, if not slightly better, but I didn't make tasting notes on it, so that's why this is a review of the 2007.

Tasting Notes:
This wine is a stunning shade of what might be described as orange-pink, not quite salmon colored, not quite baby pink. It has an intoxicating nose of orange peel, roasted nuts, and bee pollen aromas. In the mouth it is just as surprising. Weighty on the tongue, with a gorgeous texture, it delivers flavors of candied orange peel, mango, orange pith, and then as the wine finishes, strawberry and other red berries. Reasonable acid and crispness, though it betrays a hint of its slightly elevated alcohol: 14.5%. A very unusual and distinctive wine.

Food Pairing:
Well, you should definitely try it with grilled asparagus or roasted artichokes at the winemakers suggestion. I had it with an arugula and prosciutto pizza topped with an egg, and thought it was divine.

Overall Score: between 9 and 9.5

How Much?: $18

This wine is available for purchase on the Internet.


Esser Vineyards and Wine Marketing

Welcome to our video podcast: Esser Vineyards – Video Show #71.

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German-born Manfred Esser began his wine career as a salesman for a large European winery. In 1974, he came to the United States to build a wine import and marketing business. Esser joined Napa Valley’s Cuvaison Winery as President in 1986 and, in a little over 10 years, made it one of the most successful estates in the industry. His unique approach to converting customers into “company ambassadors” set an industry standard for client relations.

Manfred is widely known as a wine-marketing expert and specialist in creating “Customer Loyalty.” In fact, he coined the phrase “Guilt Marketing” – a concept where “you treat your customers so well, that you create a sense of obligation to come back to your product or service and, even more than that, actually become Ambassadors for your company.”

Having achieved success at Cuvaison, Esser sold his partnership in 1998. Continuing to live in Napa Valley, Manfred Esser introduced the Esser Vineyards portfolio of four California appellation wines: Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Pinot Noir, in order to create “consumer-friendly California wines.”

Join us as we visit with Manfred to hear his philosophical take on wine and wine marketing.

For More Info on Esser Vineyards: www.esservineyards.com

The sponsor of this video is North Berkeley Imports: www.northberkeleyimports.com

three fevre grands crus from the 2001-2002 dangerzone…

A reasonably sunny afternoon, friends and a bbq – time to whip out some 01/02 Fevre – clearly with an eye open for any undue aging or oxidation. Only one bottle spoiled, but that was down to a more traditional foe…
2001 William Fevre, Chablis Les Clos
Yellow with green glints. Deep, hints of […]

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three fevre grands crus from the 2001-2002 dangerzone…

Scotch Review: Scapa 14 year single malt

Scapa_14yrScapa is an interesting distillery, being one of the few from Orkney.  The Scapa distillery was established in 1885 and is located at Scapa Flow, an area famous for its role in both World Wars as it linked the North Sea with the Atlantic Ocean. 

The distillery went through a series of owners after WWII, and sadly it was mothballed in 1994. In 2005 Pernod-Ricard took control of Scapa, reopening the distillery and just recently releasing their first bottling, this 14 year old single malt.


I went back and forth on this scotch.  At first, I appreciated the butterscotch sweet nose and honey on the palate, a refreshing change from some of the heavier malts out there.  It’s no wonder it won a double gold medal at the 2008 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.  


After a few weeks, though, I found I was routinely passing over the Scapa when choosing a dram.  It struck me as a bit disjointed and simplistic, with a minimal finish that didn’t suit my palate.


Overall, I’d rate the Scapa 14 year single malt as average – it’s a decent-priced malt (mid-$30 range), but it is nowhere near the value of others in this price range (The Balvenie Doublewood, for example).