Bud break in Bordeaux

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It is always a happy coincidence when Mother Nature cooperates and bud break occurs around En Primeur in Bordeaux. Here are some picture from around Margaux.

Château Dauzac:

Château Brane-Cantenac:
Château Margaux:
Château Palmer:
Château Kirwan:

Loudoun Wineries Brace for Frost on Tuesday

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This is why only the most passionate winemakers make wine in Virginia, you never know what you are going to get. With the recent bit of nice weather the vines are starting to come alive. They have been weeping for a while and some vineyards are even reporting bud break. 
Now comes he weather report, with two chances for frost: Tuesday and Saturday. Frost at this stage could seriously damage the vines, a few years back Fabbioli Cellars lost their entire Cabernet Franc crop because of a late frost like this one. 
Now, vineyards will be scrambling to build fires, bring in frost abating equipment and even renting helicopters. Though none of these things will help if the temperatures dip down to 22 degrees, as originally predicted. The good news is that the temperature is ticking up a bit, though not enough. 
At this point all the …

Château Haut-Bailly Space Bottle

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Most people have never given any thought to the challenges of drinking wine on a space ship, or for that matter drinking anything on a space ship. But, there are unique challenges to drinking in a low gravity environment. Liquid does not flow in a low gravity environment the way it does on earth. Instead, it pools into droplets that look almost like floating bubbles. That is why astronauts drink water, and other drinks, through a straw.

That is fine for water and juice, but it is not a good way to drink wine.  Fortunately, a young designer, Octave de Gaulle, got curious about drinking wine in space and spent a lot of time, studying the problem.  According to him:

Nowadays drinking in space is no longer a technical problem. However if you drink alcohol from the existing plastic bags, you ruin everything beautiful and good in wine.

You just have …

11th Annual Weekend des Grands Crus

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Next week thousands of journalists will be in Bordeaux to celebrate the 2015 vintage, but just a few months after that thousands of people who love Bordeaux will be in town for what is absolutely the best wine tasting event of the year.

Union des Grands Grus de Bordeaux will hold its 11th annual Le Week-End des Grands Crus on June 4th and 5th this year.  This is an incredible tasting of 120 Bordeaux wines and a chance to chat with the Château owners and winemakers.

But, what makes the event special for me is the chance to have dinner at various Château.  These dinners are always an amazing experience, and one of the hostesses this year is Sophie Schyler Thierry, the charming Director of Communication at Château Kirwan who will show off their completely redesigned cellar.

This really is an amazing experience, you will find the many things to do …

.WINE and .VIN Domains Available for Registration

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In 2014 I wrote about the potential creation of the .WINE and .VIN domains thought domain registry Donuts.  Well, you can officially register your own .wine and .vin domains through one of the Donuts-affiliated Registrars!

In fact, one at least one Virginia Winery is already on-board, Stephen Mackey at Notaviva Vineyards has already registered notaviva.wine and NotavivaVineyards.wine. I asked him why he did it so quickly:

It’s too soon to tell if having a .WINE Generic Top Level Domain (gTLD) will actually boost your search engine rankings, as Google has indicated that the gTLD does not inform your score.  However, other studies from respected search engine experts do seem to indicate that having keyword-rich domain names does in fact boost your SEO scores.  Though the story still seems to be unfolding, it is Mesh Omnimedia’s recommendation that the potential benefits of making the minimal investment required to secure …

Interview with Adam Centamore, Author of Tasting Wine & Cheese

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[Full Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from the publisher]
Wine and cheese pairing is something that many people, including a surprising number of restaurants get wrong. I think a lot of that has to do with how we in the United States think about how we pair our cheeses.  I have been to restaurants where they offer cheese plates based on region (e.g. American cheeses vs European cheeses), but there is such a wide variety of cheeses from each region that it makes it difficult to pair a single wine with the plate.  Consumers often have it worse, unless there is a cheese shop around, or a grocery store with a good cheese selection and a knowledgable staff you are often relegated to choosing a pre-made cheese tray with no control over the types of cheeses used.  
That is one of the things that …

Château Angélus Makes an Appearance in Spectre

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The latest James Bond film, Spectre, has a number of famous stars including a bottle of 2005 Château Angélus.  This is the second Bond film in which Château Angélus has made an appearance, a bottle also appeared in the 2006 Bond film Casino Royale. The bottle appears in an action-packed train scene featuring James Bond (Daniel Craig and Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux).

If you would like to drink like Bond you can pick up a bottle of 2005 Château Angélus from Zachys in New York for $439. That being said, even though it is starting to open up I would wait a few more years to drink it.

Virginia Wineries Race to Finish Harvest Ahead of Joaquin

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Joaquin has been upgraded from a tropical storm to a hurricane and is heading up the east coast toward Virginia.  In fact most of Virginia is expecting heavy rains between now and Tuesday.  This could be a disastrous ending to what has been, to this point, a potentially excellent vintage for Virginia wineries.

Most whites and many reds have already been harvested in Virginia, but there are still late harvest grapes, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, still waiting to be picked.  A deluge of rain at this point can damage grapes.  It can also cause bloat in the grapes, leading to a thin wine.

Here is hoping to a quick and successful end to harvest for Virginia wineries, and if you have time check with your local winery to see if they need help harvesting over the next couple of days.

Photo courtesy National Weather Service

The 6th Annual #CabernetDay is Today

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It is hard to believe that today is the 6th annual #CabernetDay, but here it is.  Started in 2009 by Rick Bakas the event really has taken on a life of its own with wineries all over the world celebrating one of the most popular grapes in the world.  
How do you celebrate #CabernetDay 2015? By opening a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon, or its father, Cabernet Franc and enjoying it.  Or even better, get a group of friends together and share a couple of bottles.  
In case you want some trivia points to discuss over your wine I had a friend put together this infographic with some fun facts about Cabernet Sauvignon.  Enjoy!
#CabernetDay 2015

33entrepreneurs is Coming to America

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During my last trip to Bordeaux I was lucky enough to visit the the 33entrepreneurs team at their very cool office located in the Bourse Maritime building right on the waterfront.  
33entrepreneurs was started in 2014 with goal of investing in start up companies in the food, wine and tourism space.  They wanted to take advantage of their connections and collective knowledge of the people within Bordeaux to guide these startups from their infancy to becoming successful businesses.  

Having completed their first demo day on June 4th of this year the team at 33entrepreneurs is setting their sites on North America with a multi-city startup tour in July.  They have even released a video and set up a dedicated website:
The tour starts in New York City on July 8th and finishes up in San Francisco on July 30th.  If you have a food, wine or tourism …

Are More Americans Discovering Bordeaux?

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In 2008, during my first trip to Bordeaux, I was struck by how few Americans I ran into (though, oddly, I did get to meet comedian Lewis Black who was there on vacation). Antecdotally, that seems to be changing.  
I think Bordeaux suffers from the same problem that upstate New York does: when you say New York, people immediately think of New York City. Similarly, in the United States when you France, people immediately think of Paris. But, Bordeaux has so much to offer, aside from wine, that I think Americans are starting to realize it is worth the trip to this city. 
First, my antecdotal evidence: there was a marked increase in the number of Americans who attended the Weekend des Grands Crus this weekend. Compared to previous years, I heard a lot of American accents. I also ran into a number of Americans dining throughout the …

Les Trompettes de Lyon at Chateau Soutard

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On Saturday I was lucky enough to be invited out to Château Soutard to listen to a performance by Les Trompettes de Lyon. The performance was part of the Grandes Heures de Saint-Émilion series held at various Châteaux throughout Saint-Émilion.

It was a fun event, the room in Château Soutard where Les Trompettes de Lyon was cavernous and beautifully designed, which made the performance by this talented quintet all that more special. 

The performance itself was a quirky combination of slapstick and very skillful playing. The performers effortlessly switched between Mozart and Michael Jackson (literally). My favorite part of the performance was the tribute to great trumpet players including Maurice Andre, Louis Armstrong and Miles Davis. 
The performance was followed by wine (2012 Château Soutard) and light hors d’oeuvres as well as a chance to meet the performers.
It was a great evening, and if you are in …

Weekend des Grands Crus is This Weekend!

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The annual Weekend des Grands Crus is finally this weekend in Bordeaux. I have said it before but this is, by far, my favorite wine event.

There will more than 100 of the greatest Bordeaux estates gathered in downtown Bordeaux showing off their 2012 and one other vintage. In addition to great wine, there is also an opportunity to dine at various Chateau (this is an amazing opportunity, and something that very few people get a chance to do). Not only is the tasting great, but the location of the tasting on the Quai is beautiful and the weather is even cooperating this year with 22 degree (Celsius — 72 Fahrenheit) and sunny weather predicted.

It is not too late to get tickets and it really is worth it. Check out the UGCB website for tickets and check out other events.

Two Wine Marathons in the Next Two Weeks

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If you are a runner, wine drinker and world traveler the next two weeks should be pretty exciting for you.

This Sunday, May 24th is the annual Marathon de Sauternes. The marathon starts at Chateau Guiraud and winds its way through some of the most well-known estates in the Sauternes region. This is the 5th year the marathon has been held in Sauternes and, honestly I can’t think of a better wine to go with a 26.2 mile run.

A little closer to home for many of this blog’s readers is the Virginia Wine Country Half Marathon. Operated by Destination Races, this marathon is expected to draw almost 3000 runners. It kicks off at the beautiful Doukenie Winery and meanders through the hills of Western Loudoun stopping at Hiddencroft Vineyards for wine and water. The half-marathon is next Saturday, May 30th, and unlike in previous years there are still …

Oz Clarke Tells the History of Wine in 100 Bottles

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I admit it, I love books about wine.  It is always a lot of fun to see the perspective that different wine writers bring to their long form writing projects and the best wine books, like the best wine, always have a compelling story.

That was why I was so excited about Oz Clarke’s new book: The History of Wine in 100 Bottles.  Released on the 28th of April, the book is a fascinating look at how wine has changed (and sometimes remained the same) over millennia of history.  The book starts in 6000 B.C. and continues right up to 2014.

I am only about halfway through the book (full disclosure: I purchased my own copy), but I am already being drawn into the narrative that Oz Clarke weaves from chapter to chapter.

Don’t forget, in addition to being a great wine writer, Oz Clarke is also a fan …

A Year in Champagne Viewing Party

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The team that created the great movie A Year in Burgundy are back with the second movie in their trilogy, A Year in Champagne. Just as with the first movie, decided to host a viewing party accompanied by a great selection of Champagne.
Like first movie, A Year in Champagne is visually stunning.  The images from all around the Champagne region are immersive and really draw in the viewer. Unlike the first movie, A Year in Champagne is mostly in French, with English sub-titles. To me, this added to effect of the movie, but some in our viewing party felt it was distracting. 
What sets Champagne apart is the way the wine is made. More so than any other wine in the world, Méthode Champenoise is foreign to most people so being able to see behind the scenes and follow the wine through the entire process is fascinating, and …

There Is a Difference Between a Bull and an Ox

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Many people mistakenly use the terms bull and ox interchangeably. While a bull and an ox are both male members of the bovine family and share similar, but distinct, DNA, oxen are actually a sub-genus of the bull. Oxen are generally larger than bulls and used to pull carts, plows etc. Admittedly, it can be hard to tell the difference to an amateur (I certainly couldn’t) and a company that is based in Santa Monica, CA might not know the difference. But, there are differences, and it certainly is not worth harassing a local brewery if you don’t know the difference:

Basically you are holding us hostage with a list of demands that, if agreed to, would severely limit our ability to use our brand. Demands like, never use the color red, silver or blue; never use red with any bovine term or image; and never produce soft drinks. Do you own the color red? What about fuchsia, scarlet, crimson, or mauve? Are you planting your flag in the color wheel and claiming those shades for Red Bull? Do you claim exclusive rights to all things bovine? Do you plan to herd all heifers, cows, yaks, buffalo, bison, and steer into your intellectual property corral, too?

It is hard enough starting a brewery, even in a state like Virginia where there is an exciting brewery culture forming. Why on Earth would a multi-million dollar company like Red Bull try to take down a startup company in a completely different category?

Hitting the Century Club, in Virginia

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    Virginia has a large number of microclimates throughout the state. Some grapes grow very well in Northern Virginia, but not in Southern Virginia or in the Northern Neck. While there are some grapes, like Cabernet Franc, that seem to grow well all over the state the variety of wine available throughout the state is pretty amazing. This led me to wonder: Could a Virginia wine lover reach the Century Club without leaving the state?

    For those of you who don’t know. The Century Club is a club for wine drinker who have tasted at least 100 different varietals. Their members track the wines they have tasted and can upload the results for the world to see. It is surprisingly difficult to hit that number, and even more difficult to do it with wines from a specific region/state.

    For this test, I am using information available at the Virginia Wine website (plus my own knowledge of Virginia Wineries and I am including varietals that are used in blends, so the wine does not have to a stand alone varietal to be included. I honestly don’t know how far I will get, so let’s see what happens.

    I am going to start in Northern Virginia and begin with 8 Chains North, that winery gets us:

  1. Sauvignon Blanc
  2. Traminette
  3. Vidal Blanc
  4. Malbec
  5. Merlot
  6. Petit Verdot
  7. Sauvignon Blanc

    That was an easy start, next over to Breaux Vineyards, where we can add:

  8. Chardonnay
  9. Seyval Blanc
  10. Viognier
  11. Semillon
  12. Muscat Giallo
  13. Muscat Orange
  14. Muscat Canelli
  15. Nebbiolo
  16. Cabernet Franc

    Our next stop is Doukenie Winery where we can add:

  17. Riesling
  18. Tannat
  19. Syrah
  20. Sangiovese

    Wow, three wineries and we are 1/5 of the way there. Next we visit our favorite Rhone Ranger, Jordan Harris at Tarara Winery where we can add:

  21. Pinot Gris
  22. Touriga Naciona
  23. Pinot Noir

    If we stop at Fabbioli Cellars we can add:

  24. Chambourcin

    Now, it is starting to get tougher. The good news is that our friends at Casanel Vineyards can add:

  25. Norton
  26. Carmenère (coming soon)

    The always inventive Lew Parker at Willowcroft can add:

  27. Cabernet Blanc

    to our list, while our German friends at Otium Cellars allow us to add:

  28. Dornfelder
  29. Blaufraenkisch

    Next we back track a bit to Hillsborough Vineyards, where we can try their Ruby which adds::

  30. Fer Servadou

    Heading out to Warrenton, Granite Heights Winery we can add:

  31. Petit Mensing

    Nice and easy, we managed to get 31 different wines in just one part of Virginia.

    So, we are almost a 1/3 of the way there, and now I am going to turn it over to you readers, leave a comment with any varieties I may have missed. Let’s see how close, collectively, we can get to the Century Club without leaving Virginia.