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Wine for Normal People

Wine for Normal People

A podcast for people who like wine but not the snobbery that goes with it. We talk about wine in a fun, straightforward, normal way to get you excited about it and help you drink better, more interesting stuff. The Wine For Normal People book is available on Amazon! Back catalog available at http://winefornormalpeople.libsyn.com.

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Ep 409: Wine Aromas Explained


Photo: Pixabay

Note: I recorded this right before I got sick so I sound a little 'throaty' but I hope you'll enjoy the show nonetheless!

For the first show of 2022, we start out with a dorky one and answer the question:

Where does aroma come from and are the things people describe in wine like roses, smoke, and pepper real or total BS?

 

We take the questions head on and give some answers that may surprise you! Enjoy and thanks for your continued support of the show and all we do!

 

Here are the show notes: 

We start with the basic, defining aroma, as I do in the Wine for Normal People book: The smells unique to the grape variety, demonstrated in a varietal wine in its youth.

 

We discuss perception, wine tasting, and then I review some very cool findings from this article, ?Aroma Compounds in Wine? By Fengmei Zhu, Bin Du and Jun Li, Published: October 19th 2016

 

"File:Head Olfactory Nerve Labeled.png" by Patrick J. Lynch, medical illustrator is licensed under CC BY 2.5

At a high level we talk about aromas from the grape, from yeast and enzymes, from amino acids, and those from malolactic fermentation. We talk about the effects of weather and soil briefly as well.

 

Then we go through the laundry list of compounds in wine, and what each brings to the aroma, bouquet, and flavor:

 

Terpenes: In grape skins also in fruits, flowers, leaves of some plants. Big component of aromatic whites ? Muscat, Gewurztraminer, Muscat, Riesling. Includes:

Linalool: When in contact with other things in the wine, makes lavender, orange blossom, lily, bay leaf notes Geraniol: Rose petal smell Nerol and citronellol:Floral, citrus notes, also in flowers and fruit Limonene and citral: Found in citrus peel Hotrienol: Elderflower, gooseberry 1,8-cineole and alpha-pinene:Eucalyptus, garrigue (airborne and can cling to the skin of grapes)

 

Rotundone: In skins, aroma of peppercorns, particularly white pepper

Photo: Pixabay

Aldehydes:

Hexanal and hexenal: Fresh cut grass, tomato leaf Vanillin:Vanilla beans, vanilla Benzaldehyde:Bitter almond or marzipan in Italian white wines Furfural: Dried wood, caramel, oak

 

 

Pyrazines/ Methoxypyrazines: 

Green bell pepper, herbaceous notes

 

Esters: Created by reactions between alcohols and acids

Primary fruit aromas like apple, orange, citrus, banana, pear

 

Photo: Pixabay

Ketones and diketones:

Beta-ionone: Violets, dark flowers Diacetyl: Butter, creaminess in wine - byproduct of malolactic fermentation. When combined with new American oak with its vanilla- nut notes - like buttered popcorn

 

 

Thiols/Mercaptans: Volatile sulfur compounds in grapes, released by fermentation (when bad ? like garlic or onion!)

3MH (3-mercaptohexan-1-ol):Passion fruit 3MHA (3-mercaptohexyl acetate):Guava and gooseberry 4MMP (4-mercapto-4-methylpentan-2-one): Blackcurrant (Cab)

 

Lactones

Sotolon:Sauternes, Madeira  -- either Botrytis or age has an effect here - spice, nuts, maple syrup Octalactone:  Coconut notes

 

Phenols are derived from oak aging: 

Guaiacol: Smoke, roasted, toasty notes Eugenol: Clove

 

Other common wine aroma compounds

TDN (1,1,6-trimethyl-1,2-dihydronaphthalene): Petrol or kerosene in Riesling Noriosoprenoids: Spice, raspberry, rose, vanilla

Photo: Pixabay

 

What's the point of this show? Forget all the technical terms and just know: what you are tasting and smelling is based on something REAL -- not some nonsense made up by wine snobs. There is a legitimate reason for why wine smells the way it does! 

 

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If you think our podcast is worth the price of a bottle or two of wine a year, please become a member of Patreon... you'll get even more great content, live interactions and classes! 

www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

 

 

To register for an AWESOME, LIVE WFNP class with Elizabeth go to: www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes

 

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Sources:

Scientific Papers Series Management, Economic Engineering in Agriculture and Rural Development Vol. 18, Issue 4, 2018 PRINT ISSN 2284-7995, E-ISSN 2285-3952 423 AROMATIC COMPOUNDS IN WINES Luminita VISAN1 , Radiana-Maria TAMBA-BEREHOIU1 , Ciprian Nicolae

Wine Enthusiast, The Science Behind the Main Wine Aromas, Explained, ANNE KREBIEHL MW -- The source for this article seems to be the article above, which I also used, but it?s a handy, quick summary of the more academic one above!
2022-01-13
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Ep 408: Beaumes de Venise - the Historic, High Elevation Cru of the Southern Côtes du Rhône, The Producers' Perspective

In educational partnership with

Beaumes de Venise is a small, beautiful village located in the southern Rhône Valley. It has a great history of quality and recognition for both its red wines, which are classified under the Côtes de Rhône Beaumes de Venise Cru, and its famed Muscat de Beaumes de Venise Cru, a vin doux naturel wine which is known for its exquisite flavors, elegance, and unrivaled balance. In this episode, we explore this historic region that has been making wine for more than 2600 years - the terroir, climate, wines, grapes, and where the name comes from as well (hint: not from a place with many waterways in Italy!).

Photo courtesy of Beaumes de Venise

Getting a firsthand account from the experts who work in the region every day is the best way to learn so for this show we have two ambassadors for Beaumes de Venise, Claude Chabran of the high-quality Rhonéa co-operative, and Florence Cartier of the family-owned estate Domaine les Goubert.  Each has a unique perspective and shares fascinating information about the realities of making wine ? both red and vin doux naturel -- in this marvelous region, which is really unlike any other in the Rhône.

 

Photo: Claude Chabran of the high-quality Rhonéa co-operative, right

 

 

In this show you?ll learn about:

Where Beaumes de Venise is located within the southern Côtes du Rhône, the size of the region and the importance of the unbelievable geological structures of the Dentelles de Montmirail

 

The terroir including the high elevation and steep slopes, the importance of the orientation of the slopes, proximity to other well-known cru, and the distinct soil types that affect the flavor of the grapes and how they are farmed

 

The trends toward organic farming in Beaumes de Venise

Photo: Florence Cartier of the family-owned estate Domaine les Goubert

The historical significance of Beaumes de Venise wine

 

The Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre that grow here and how each reacts to different conditions, as well as some of the blending grapes that play a big part here (Florence mentions Cinsault as a favorite!).

 

We discuss the flavor profile of red Beaumes de Venise Cru and how its freshness and bright fruit make it stand out among the crus of the Côtes du Rhône

 

The Muscat de Beaumes de Venise appellation -- how is it made, what makes it special, and why it continues to have the reputation as the finest Muscat-based vin doux naturel

Claude Chabran tell us about the collegial structure of the Rhonéa cooperative, how they ensure quality, and the innovations they have pursued for their small growers

 

We end with information about what food pairings that work well with both the red Beaumes de Venise Cru and the Muscat de Beaumes de Venise appellation (don?t forget spicy food for Muscat!) and how best to visit this lovely, historic region.

   

Thank you to the appellations of Beaumes de Venise for the educational partnership and financial support for this show and for teaching us about this appellation, full of history, excellent wine, and passionate producers!

 

For more information please visit the Beaumes de Venise site. 

This podcast and post are part of a paid partnership with AOC Beaumes de Venise.

2021-12-22
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Ep 407: Beaumes de Venise - An Overview of the Stylish, Dual Appellation Region of the Côtes du Rhône

In Educational Partnership with

This show is all about the Beaumes de Venise AOC, which is a double threat, making two distinctly different, yet equally stunning wine types, with a cru for each:

Beaumes de Venise has been a red-only Cru of the Côtes du Rhône since 2005. It is a blended wine based on Grenache, with Syrah and Mourvèdre. The production area is spread over four communes and stretches 680 ha or 1680 acres. The communes are Beaumes de Venise, Lafare, Suzette, and La Roque-Alric ? all located in the Vaucluse Department.

Muscat de Beaumes de Venise has been a vin doux naturel appellation since 1945 (76 years!). It is smaller, expanding over just 314 ha or 776 acres. The wine has likely been made here since Roman times and it is insanely good! 

 

Climate

Beaumes de Venise has a distinctly Mediterranean climate, and it posts higher temperatures than some surrounding areas because the Dentelles de Montmirail shield the area from the strong, blowing cold of the Mistral wind. But Beaumes de Venise is distinct from other areas in that it has very high elevations -- the vineyard lies on slopes at 200-450 M/656-1,476 ft. The diurnal temperature swings and the breezes at elevation account for the freshness and acidity that is the hallmark of these wines.


Photo: The Dentelles de Montmirail, Getty Images

 

Soils

There are four main types of soil in Beaumes de Venise ? three for the red Cru, and one that is best for Muscat:

Triassic Earth (Terres du Trias): Triassic soil from 200-250 million years ago normally resides 1,500m/4,900 ft underground, but the Dentelles de Montmirail rose from deep in the earth, and the Triassic deposits came to the surface. These soils are shallow, poor, and orange/yellow (iron-rich soils often have this hue). The high clay content protects vines from drought and humidity.


Photo: A wine made only from the Triassic soils, from Rhonéa

Cretaceous White Earth (Terres Blanches). Formed 90 million years ago, this gray-colored rock is made of well-drained calcareous clay and marl (limestone). The Grenache and Syrah vines are of especially high quality here, as they dig deep into the soil for nutrients.

 

 

Jurassic Grey Earth (Terres Grises) from 140-150 mm years ago are Oxfordian black marl, made up of silt, clay and sand and are located mainly north of the village of Lafare, on south-eastern slopes of the Dentelles de Montmirail. These soils promote fruity flavors and uniform ripeness.

 

 

Miocene Sandstone  a sandy-clay soil produced from the erosion of soft rock from the Miocene Period 15 million years ago. These soils lie close to the town of Beaumes-de-Venise. The soil is credited with giving elegance and subtlety that makes the Muscat here so special.

 

Grapes and flavor profiles for Beaumes de Venise (red)

The main grapes of the Beaumes de Venise Cru are Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre. The red must be at least 50% Grenache Noir, with a minimum of 20% Syrah and Mourvèdre together or separately. A maximum of 20% of all the ?accessory grapes? are allowed but whites can be no more than 10% of the mix.

Red accessory grapes are Carignan, Cinsault, Vaccarèse, Counoise, Muscardin, Piquepoul Noir, and Terret Noir. White accessory grapes are: Bourboulenc, Clairette (blanc and rose), Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, Marsanne, Piquepoul blanc, Ugni blanc, and Viognier.

Photo: Grenache, Getty Images

Beaumes de Venise Cru (dry red) is a fruity, ripe red, with a medium body, silky, medium tannins and refreshing acidity. Typical flavors are red berry, blackcurrant, and herbs. Certain versions are peppery with baking spice, garrigue, dried leaf, earth, and licorice. There are some fuller versions with jammy, coffee, dried fruit notes with higher alcohol, more prominent tannins, and a long finish. But even fuller versions have nice acidity and a balance of freshness and fruit. Beaumes de Venise red wines age gracefully and are more mellow and leathery after a few years. Roasted or grilled meats, mushroom tartlets, and Camembert cheese are great pairings for this wine.

 

Grapes and flavor profiles for Muscat de Beaumes de Venise (vin doux naturel)

The vins doux naturels for Beaumes de Venise are made of the Muscat grape. The Muscat Beaumes de Venise wines are the only Muscat-based wine in the Rhône outside Clairette de Die. They are made only from Muscat blanc a Petit Grains grape, the finest in the Muscat family of grapes. These wines are mostly white (84%) with some red (1%),  and rosé (15%), the latter two being from Muscat Noir, a color mutation of Muscat blanc.

 

Muscat has been grown in Beaumes de Venise since 600 BC and today, the grapes grow on warm, sandy soils on mainly south-facing slopes. Considered the most elegant Muscat Vin Doux Naturel in the world, the wines are made through the process of mutage, fortification with pure grape spirit after the grapes ferment to 5 to 10% alcohol. This process leaves sugar from the grapes in the wine, making them ?naturally? sweet.

 

The style of Muscat de Beaumes de Venise ranges from heavier and higher in alcohol to lighter with more delicate flavors. Muscat de Beaumes de Venise has intoxicating aromas and flavors like white flowers, citrus, pears, peach, tropical fruit like mango or lychee, honey, and even grapey notes. The wines are sweet with acidity and a very long finish, but the exact flavors and combination of acidity, alcohol, and sugar are dependent on site and producer. There is so much to explore!

 

Muscat de Beaumes de Venise is great with food...

Muscat de Beaumes de Venise is great as an aperitif if it is a lighter style or, with, after or as dessert if it is heavier. The wine goes really well with Asian food ?spicy Chinese or Thai and Indian are ideal.  It?s a great gift to bring to a host ? it will wow the crowd for its delicacy, versatility and unique profile!

 

Photo:  Courtesy of Beaumes de Venise AOC

All the Beaumes de Venise wines are excellent and are fantastic value for money. The reds will become a staple in your weekly drinking and you?ll have so much to choose from as you pick wines from different soils and expressions from different producers. The whites will be your new guilty pleasure.


Thank you again to the appellations of Beaumes de Venise for the educational partnership and financial support for this show!  Please visit the AOC's site for more information on Beaumes de Venise!

Photo: Courtesy of Beaumes de Venise AOC

 

Photo: Dentelles de Montmirail, Getty Images

This podcast and post are part of a paid partnership with Beaumes de Venise.

2021-12-22
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Old Pod, New Context -- Re-release of Ep 191: Proving Terroir is Real with BiomeMakers

In light of new research and the Terroir Seminar that I did with Laura Catena, Fernando Buscema, and Jane Anson, I thought it would be really helpful to re-release this show and draw your attention to it. BiomeMakers had answered many the questions that terroir seminar addressed, and that the Catena Institute's paper elaborated upon. I encourage you to listen and see how, even 4.5 years ago, we were on the trail of figuring out some vital things about terroir (and what winemaking can do to it). 

 

Here are the original show notes: 

 

Is terroir a concept concocted by the French to hide flaws, as some suggest? Or is it a real thing that can be tasted and measured? John Dimos from Biome Makers and Wine Seq has a tool that resolves the question. In this nerdy, fascinating podcast we dig into the details and provide solid answers to the questions below! I never thought we'd see this in our lifetimes, but here we are! 

 

1. What is it?! John tells us the premise of Biome Makers and how it's an affordable and viable premise now vs 5 years ago

  2.  He answers terroir questions around... Why people have denied the presence of "terroir" in wine  How Biome Makers changed the game on the notion of terroir  How soil variation impacts on grapes The effect of the biomes v chemicals from winemaking in the final wine?    3.  We discuss the WIM (What it Means) and the impact of the tool on wineries... Who is this tool for and how will they use it? Given that terroir is a real thing and that it CAN be detected in many wines, why isn't expressed in all wine (or food for that matter)? How is this new tool going to change wine growing going forward?  Will it empower people to take more "risks" on farming organically?  Does this steal the "art" from grape growing/winemaking?

I encourage you to check out the site and to follow them on Facebook and Twitter. A company that surely will change the way winemaking happens! 

http://www.biomemakers.com

 

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Thanks for our sponsors this week:

Wine Access: Access to the best wines for the best prices! For 15% off your next order, go to www.wineaccess.com/normal

If you think our podcast is worth the price of a bottle or two of wine a year, please become a member of Patreon... you'll get even more great content, live interactions and classes! 

www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

 

 

To register for an AWESOME, LIVE WFNP class with Elizabeth go to: www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes

2021-12-20
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Ep 406: Rasteau ? the Magical Cru of the Southern Rhône - The Producers' Perspective

In Partnership with

 

Rasteau is a cru of the Côtes du Rhône, specifically the southern Rhône. It is an area with a very specific geography, soil type, climate, and wine style that deserves our attention.

 

In this show we explore this region, discussing the land, the climate, traditions, grapes, and winemaking.  The quality and differentiation among the wines of Rasteau and how it stands out as a very special place in the Rhône Valley Vineyards are clear when you taste these wines and when you talk to producers, so for this show we have two ambassadors for Rasteau, Frédéric Lavau of Lavau and Domaine Les Évigneaux and Françoise Joyet Larum of Domaine des Girasols. They join to represent the region and to tell us about this historic, beautiful and high-quality winemaking appellation.


Photo: Frédéric Lavau of Lavau and Domaine Les Évigneaux, courtesy of the Domaines

In this show you?ll learn about:

Where Rasteau is located, plus its unique terroir, and climate features (including the role of the Mistral wind, climate change, and how winemakers in Rasteau maintain freshness and balance in the wines with warming trends)

Organic and sustainable farming in Rasteau

The Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre that grow here and how the flavors change based on where the grapes are planted, how old the vines are, and how the wine is made

Why Rasteau is a superior appellation (cru) of the southern Rhône and why it is such a diverse, multi-layered region



Photo: Françoise Joyet Larum of Domaine des Girasols, courtesy of the Domaine

How different producers on different sites can produce varied styles that are food friendly. We discuss the top pairings with Rasteau wines too, because they are so very food friendly. Roasted fish or chicken for lighter styles, ribs, lamb, or barbeques or mushrooms, root vegetable, and hard cheeses for fuller bodied wines. Herbs and spices from the Mediterranean always work well with Rasteau. These wines are so versatile there is so many possibilities!

Finally we discuss visiting Rasteau, the festivals around wine, and the self-guided wine route you can do while in the town.

Photo courtesy of Rasteau AOC

 

Thank you to the region of Rasteau for the educational partnership and financial support for this show and for teaching us about this appellation, full of history, excellent wine, and passionate producers!

 

For more information please visit https://www.vins-rasteau.com/

 

This podcast and post are part of a paid partnership. All photos courtesy of Rasteau AOC.

2021-12-15
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Ep 405: Rasteau ? An Overview of the Naturally Bountiful Cru of the Côtes du Rhône

Thank you to the region of Rasteau for the educational partnership and financial support for this show and for teaching us about this appellation, full of history, excellent wine, and passionate producers!

 

Rasteau, a Cru from the southern Côtes du Rhône vineyards, has a unique terroir. Its delicious wines are mainly dry reds made from Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre, with a small production of the sweet vins doux naturels. The cru is small with just 940 ha/2,323 acres making about 359,167 cases/yr, 4.31 mm bottles (in 2020). Around 60 producers form a very collegial community of passionate winemakers dedicated to the region.

The Rasteau terroir is varied, with a hot Mediterranean climate and low rainfall. Some parts of Rasteau experience the effects of the Mistral ? the strong, local, northern wind ? strongly, while others are sheltered from it.

 

The appellation is on a south-facing hill that faces the Dentelles de Montmirail, the limestone peaks that surround the southern appellations. The area has a diversity of soils ? with three distinct areas:

A plateau, with elevations reaching 360 M/1181 ft. This area has sandy, stony soils, which retain heat well, storing it by day and releasing it to the vines at night. A mid-slope area between 160 m- 290 m/525 ft ? 951 ft, the main area for vines with variable marl, sand, and clay soils, with some iron-rich and sandstone parcels. Syrah and Mourvèdre are best on sandy, clay, and marl soils, which have excellent water retention. Grenache thrives on the unique blue marl of this area. An area that slopes down to the south: the altitude 120-160 m/394 ft-525 ft, which is flatter and a bit warmer

 

Adhering to the stringent regulations imposed by the AOC, the Rasteau appellation produces dry red wines (96% of production) as well as the sweet vins doux naturels in red, rosé and white (4%).  The AOC ensures meticulous care and regulation of things like planting density, spacing, pruning, trellising, height of the canopy, and sorting. Certain clones of Grenache and Syrah are prohibited, as is irrigation. The minimum alcohol for dry wines is 12.5%, and Rasteau Cru must be aged until March 31st of the year after harvest.

The main grapes of Rasteau are Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre. Red Rasteau is the main product and it must be at least 50% Grenache Noir, with a minimum of 20% Syrah and Mourvèdre together or separately. A maximum of 20% all the ?accessory grapes? are allowed but whites can be no more than 10% of the mix.


Accessory grapes are: Carignan, Cinsault with Bourboulenc , Vaccarèse, Clairette (blanc and rose), Counoise, Muscardin, Piquepoul Noir, Terret Noir with whites:  Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, Marsanne, Piquepoul blanc, Ugni blanc, Viognier, Grenache Gris

 

The style of Rasteau ranges from lighter and easy drinking to more serious and full-bodied. The common thread is that the wines are not over the top, they drink nicely when young, but can age in the right vintages. Flavors and aromas include garrigue (the famed herbs of this area ? thyme, rosemary, lavender), red berry, black cherry, black fruit, sometimes with leathery, dried fruit/jam, savory spice notes or, in bigger versions, cigar box, leather, earth, incense, and licorice. Generally the wines have fresh acidity and soft tannin. Bigger versions have sweet, juicy fruit sometimes with chewy tannins.

White and rosé wines are made here but they are marketed as Côtes du Rhône-Villages or vins doux naturels.

 

The vins doux naturels are red, rosé, and white wines made from hand harvested Grenache Noir, Grenache Gris, and Grenache Blanc with any grapes that are allowed in the Côtes du Rhône, but accessory grapes can?t be more than 10% of the blend. Minimum alcohol must be at least 15% and the wines must age until August 31st of the year following that of harvest. The whites show floral and honeyed notes, the rosés are like cherry brandy (kirsch) or jam, and the reds come in many styles from grenat, a tannic, fresh red to oxidatively aged ambré, tuilé, and hors d?age (5+ years aging before release) and rancio (minimum 12 months aging in a barrel).

 

Food pairings include for Rasteau reds: stews, lentils, hard cheeses, grilled beef or eggplant/mushrooms, leg of lamb, charcuterie, blue cheese, or chocolate fondant.Rasteau vin doux naturel pairs well with a variety of sweet and savory foods. The red is perfect with chocolate desserts, the rosé and ambré with Chinese sweet and sour dishes and the white partners with herbed goat cheese.

 

These are excellent wines, and represent the passion of the producers whom we will hear from in a separate podcast. The wines represent exciting styles and are insane value for money ? grab a few bottles and try all this amazing region has to offer! You?ll never tire of drinking Rasteau.

 

Thank you again to the region of Rasteau for the educational partnership!

This podcast and post are part of a paid partnership. All photos courtesy of Rasteau AOC.

2021-12-15
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Ep 404: Truchard Vineyards, A Carneros (Napa) Legend with Anthony Truchard

Anthony Truchard, Truchard Vineyards


Anthony Truchard of Truchard Vineyards in the Los Carneros area of southern Napa is one of my favorite people in Napa, and it was a pleasure to have him on the show.

 

Truchard Vineyards is a family-owned winery that has been operating for over 40 years. It started when Anthony?s parents Tony and JoAnn were about to head to Korea for a two-year tour with the US Army (of which Tony was part). After Tony completed his medical residency in Texas, where the couple was from JoAnn, who was very pregnant, fortuitously slipped on a grape in a grocery store, broke her knee and the Army sent the family to a base in CA near the Nevada border. 

 

Upon exploring the beauty of California, Tony got a wild hair to buy a vineyard in Napa and the rest is history. Truchard started out as a growing operation in the 1970s but in 1989 they decided to take some of their favorite blocks and start their own winery. Although they are still a major supplier of grapes to very prestigious properties up-valley in Napa, their winery is true to the land of Carneros and one of the purest expressions of this unique area in the North Coast of California.

JoAnn and Tony Truchard

 

Anthony Truchard was one of six of the Truchard children who grew up commuting between the family vineyard in Carneros and spending his weeks at school in Reno, NV and his weekends in Napa -- he was working in the fields with his father, Tony, by age 12. Anthony has degrees in Philosophy and Biology from UC Santa Barbara and worked in local wine shops and restaurants, learning how normal people interact with and buy wine. He also got a law degree from Cardozo School of Law in New York City and practiced intellectual property law before returning to Napa to become the GM of Truchard Vineyards, where he works hard to maintain the integrity of his family?s wines.

 

Here are the topics we cover in the show:

The history of Truchard, starting in France (yes, they owned land and farmed vines there!), moving into the first Truchards? attempts at viticulture in Texas (right idea, wrong place!), and then discussing the Truchard story in California and how Anthony was involved in the vineyard from the time he was a young boy and his father worked to convert an old prune farm that people thought was too cool for grapes into a thriving vineyard.

Truchard's barn in Texas, still stands today!

Anthony gives us a full education on Carneros. We discuss:

The unique designation of the appellation ? the fact that it was the first in California to transcend municipal lines and be based on terroir Why the climate is cool here The different parts of Carneros and why some grapes like Roussanne, Syrah and Cabernet can thrive in certain areas The topography, soil types, and water challenges of the area

 

We discuss the main grapes that thrive here ? Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Merlot, and how Cabernet Sauvignon is growing in plantings as the climate warms. Anthony also talks about the major cultural differences between Carneros and other parts of the Napa Valley.

The Cave at Truchard Vineyards in Carneros

 

We cover the viability of organics in a cool climate with major fog, like Carneros and what becoming organic does for the grapes

 

Anthony talks about the collaboration of Tony Truchard, his dad who still manages is the vineyards, and the winemaker, Sal de Ianni. He discusses the goal of the team at Truchard Vineyards  ? to express the land and the vintage in each bottle, to stay traditional (not chase trends),  and to stay true to the farming roots.


Truchard Winemaker Sal de Ianni

Anthony gives us some thoughts about market trends and what he sees for the future of Carneros and Truchard.

These are spectacular wines and are available in the US and the UK at a reasonable price. They are meant to enjoy and to pair with food.


Photos all from Truchardvineyards.com

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Thanks for our sponsors this week:

Wine Access: Access to the best wines for the best prices! For 15% off your next order, go to www.wineaccess.com/normal

If you think our podcast is worth the price of a bottle or two of wine a year, please become a member of Patreon... you'll get even more great content, live interactions and classes! 

www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

 

 

To register for an AWESOME, LIVE WFNP class with Elizabeth go to: www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes

 

2021-12-12
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Ep 403: Sardinia, Italy -- an Overview of Italy's Island with it's Own Accent

Sardinia is the second-largest island in the Mediterranean, and lies off the west coast of mainland Italy. Much larger than Corsica, the wines here have a distinctly Spanish influence, with some Italian and French to boot. The wines are unlike any other you?ll encounter (although many you can only encounter them if you visit!). In this show we try try to sort through the grapes and regions of this island to get to the heart of what?s here (Grenache, Vermentino) and what to look for in the future.

 

Sardinia is 150 miles (240km) off the west coast of mainland Italy. Across the Tyrrhenian Sea from Lazio (the province where Rome is located), Sardegna is sandwiched between French Corsica in the north and Sicily in the south at 38?N and 41?N latitude. The island is almost three times the size of Corsica with a population of 1.64 million people, with the largest city of Cagliari in the south. Known by the jet setters for the fancy Costa Smeralda in northeast tip, this big island is making more and better wines every year.

Photo: Getty Images/Canva

Here are the show notes:

After some facts and history, I get the hardest part of Sardegna out of the way: the fact that it feels like there are a million appellations: 1 DOCG, 17 DOCs, 15 IGPs  and two-thirds is DOP level. It seems nonsensical ? too many ?line extensions? of the Sardinia brand!! There are more DOC and IGT titles than Basilicata and Calabria combined but has lowest production per hectare. This is especially confusing when you consider that there are just 25,000 ha/61,776 acres under vine, and 31,000 growers, who own tiny plots (and often form co-ops to economics work).  To try to clear up the DOC confusion, I break it down into the three big buckets:

?di Sardegna? Appellations:

Cannonau di Sardegna Monica di Sardegna Moscato di Sardegna Vermentino di Sardegna Sardegna Semidano

 

Cagliari Appellations

Malvasia di Cagliari Monica di Cagliari Moscato di Cagliari Nasco di Cagliari Nuragus di Cagliari

 

Other important DOC/Gs:

Carignano del Sulcis Vermentino di Gallura DOCG Vernaccia di Oristano For Bovale: Mandrolisai, Campidano di Terralba

 

Then we discuss the basics on this large island?

 

The climate of Sardinia is dry and hot with some maritime influences to cool down the vineyards. The rolling hills and different elevations mean there are many mesoclimates, so growers have to pay attention to their particular area.

 

Sardinia is made up of hills, plains, coast, and inland areas with varied soils ? granite (Gallura), limestone (Cagliari), sandstone, marl, mineral rich clay, sands, gravel. The land tends to be undulating but there are also very high altitudes at which grapes can be planted.

 

Grapes? The top five varietals are nearly 70% of land under vine, and the area is home to 120 native grape varieties. Old vines (70+ years) are common in Sardinia

The top 5 grapes are:

Cannonau/Grenache Vermentino Carignano Monica Nuragus  

The reds?

Cannonau is about 20% of the output of Sardinia. Although it is identical to Grenache, some natives think the grape originated here, and are trying to prove that. These best wines come from a triangle that covers the eastern interior areas within the Cannonau di Sardegna DOC (these names will be on the label):

Oliena (Nepente di Oliena)  Capo Ferrato Jerzu

 

Cannonau is known to have thin skin, medium acidity, a medium body with soft tannins, and high alcohol. It often tastes and smells like peppery spice, red berry, red flowers, and earth and generally has low or no oak aging. Cannonau di Sardegna is required to be 90-100% Cannonau, with other non aromatic, local red grapes permitted. There are a few styles of this wine:

Rossoor classico (a little higher alcohol, more yield restrictions), which are often in one of two styles? Strong and tannic with lower acidity and higher alcohol ? a steakhouse wine, as MC Ice called it Dry, fewer tannins and slightly fruity, with red berry, cherry, floral, spicy anise/herbal notes, earth, and strong acidity. This is a wine that improves with age Riserva is generally made with riper fruit, and is required to age at least two years with time in a barrel and a minimum alcoholic strength of 12.5% Rosato is a light to full rosé The fortified liquorosowines are made as dolce with a high residual sugar content, or secco,  dry with a higher alcohol content.  Passito styles are made, where grapes are dried on straw mats and then pressed. The resulting wines have similar sweetness toliquoroso dolce.

*Many of the other red grapes are made in all of these styles as well

Photo: Getty Images/Canva

 

Other reds?

Carignano del Sulcis DOC is for red and rosato wines made from Carignano in the southwest corner of the island. These vines are quite old, and the flavors are like sweet spice, smoke, and dark fruit. The wines tend to be full bodied with high alcohol. Similar to Cannonau, the are made as rosso, riserva, rosato, and passito. There is also a nouveau, or novello style for this wine.

 

 

Bovale has 24 different names in Sardininan dialects but the idea that it is Bobal from Spain has been debunked. The two common versions of Bovale are Bovale Grande, which is Carignan, and Bovale Sardo, Rioja?s Graciano grape (also called Cagnulari). Mandrolisai and Campidano di Terralba focus on Bovale

 

The Monica grape is -- grown almost nowhere else in the world, and is definitely from Spain. It is either light and fruity or more intense. There is potential for the grape but now the yields under the Monica di Sardegna and Monica di Cagliari DOCs are so high that it?s hard to glean the true potential of the wine.

 

Pascale di Cagliari is originally from Tuscany and now mostly used to blend with other varieties, like Carignano.

 

 The whites? Vermentino is a sun-loving grape, which works well in Sardinia?s hot, dry climate. The styles range from light and fresh to fuller-bodied, with lower acidity and higher alcohol. Good versions taste and smell either like citrus, white flowers, herbs with salinity/minerality or for the fuller styles, almonds, peach, apricot, ripe tropical fruit, with a fat body. Vermentino di Sardegna covers the entire island of Sardinia, so quality is highly variable. Often it is dry, slightly bitter, herbal, and light to neutral in flavor. It can be dry, off-dry, slightly sparkling or Spumante (dry or sweet). Vermentino di Gallura is Sardinia?s only DOCG. Located in the island?s northeastern corner, the area has sharp diurnals, strong winds from the Mistral and vineyards are on weathered granite soil. The result is a wine that is flavorful, with white flowers, lemon, peach, almond, minerals, and especially a salinity to it.  The wine is dry with a slight bitterness on the finish, good acidity, and high alcohol (14%+ is common). The wine is made as Superiore (higher alcohol requirement, riper grapes), frizzante, spumante, passito, late harvest, and off-dry versions. Winemakers are experimenting with skin contact, amphora, lees stirring (battonage), oak aging, and other techniques to spice things up for Vermentino.

Photo: Getty Images/Canva

Other white grapes include

Nuragus, which was  planted by the Phoenicians, and is light-bodied, dry, acidic, with citrus, green apple, pear, and melon notes. It can be high in alcohol.

 

Nasco is grown around Cagliari, and is used for passito and liquoroso, with some dry styles.

 

Torbato is an acidic, minerally white with pear notes that can be creamy with some age. It is also made as a sparkling wine.

 

Malvasia, dry or sweet is made here, as is Moscato (Muscat) ? both are floral, aromatic, and generally lighter in style, although Moscato is bolder than Malvasia

 

Vernaccia di Oristano is made from a grape that is unique to this area, and the wines, which range from dry to sweet, but are most famed when made in a sherry-like fortified wine, are rarely seen outside Sardinia.  

Photo: Getty Images/Canva

Here is the list of top producers we mention:

Argiolas,  Antonella Corda, Capichera, Contini, Ferruccio Deiana, Cantina Santadi, Sella & Mosca (Campari owns), Siddura, Vigne Surrau, Pietro Mancini

 

Some sources I used for this show:

Strictly Sardinia Ian D'Agata for Vinous, Sardinia's Wines: High Quality, Low Visibility, March 2018 Wine-Searcher, Sardinia Italian Wine Central:Sardegna

 

Thanks for our sponsors this week:

Wine Access: Access to the best wines for the best prices! For 15% off your next order, go to www.wineaccess.com/normal

If you think our podcast is worth the price of a bottle or two of wine a year, please become a member of Patreon... you'll get even more great content, live interactions and classes! 

www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

To register for an AWESOME, LIVE WFNP class with Elizabeth go to: www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes

2021-12-07
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Ep 402: Corsica, the French Island with an Italian Accent

Corsica is the 4th largest Mediterranean island and the most mountainous. It is a territory of France but is closer to Italy in proximity and, often in wine styles. Corsica is called ?Ile de Beauté,? the beautiful island, and its wines, which were once known for quantity rather than quality are making great strides in amazing reds, whites, and rosés, which is the majority of their production.

 

These off-the-beaten trail wines, made of Nielluccio (Sangiovese), Sciacarello (an elegant, native red), and Vermentino (an aromatic white) with a mix of other grapes represent the unique terroir of this rugged, varied isle. These wines are ones to keep on your radar ? they are getting better and should be on your ?watch? list!

 

Map: Vins de Corse

 

Here are the show notes:

Location, Climate, Geology

We discuss the location of Corsica -- 90 km/56 mi west of Italy, 170 KM/106 mi SE of France, 11 KM/7 mi north of Sardegna


Corisca is a big island -- twice the size of Rhode Island, half the area of the country of Wales. Down the center a single chain of mountains takes up 2/3 of the island


We discuss who actually planted vines here and debate Phoceans v. Phoenicians (the former is from Persia, the latter more from what we know as Greece today)


In this, the most mountainous island in the Mediterranean, there are many soil combinations, but most contain at least some granite or schist, except on the east coast where there is more alluvial and colluvial soils from mountain runoff


20% of island covered by wild scrub known as the maquis -- fig, lavender, wild mint, thyme, rosemary -- Wines are highly aromatic, minerally ? especially the reds due to the Granite and the maquis


The CLIMATE is Mediterranean, with abundant sunshine but also a lot of rain and very strong winds from every direction (the Mistral, the Transmontane, the Liebeccio, and the Gregale are some of those we list). The mountains and the sea are the influences that reduce day-night temperature swings. There are a variety of mesoclimates because of altitude and maritime influence

 

 

Grapes: More than 40 grapes that are Italian, Spanish, French and more, are allowed, but most are only allowed in IGP wines. The main grapes are Nielluccio, Sciacarello and Vermentino

Nielluccio represents  1/3 of plantings and is genetically identical to Sangiovese but tastes totally different because of the terroir in Corsica.

 

Sciaccarello is 15% of production and displays high acidity, elegance with smoke, raspberry, licorice, hazelnuts, blackberries, orange notes

 

Others: Grenache, Aleatico, Barbarossa, Carcajolo Nero,  Minustello (Graciano), Mourvedre, Cinsault, Carignan

 

Vermentino was probably brought to the island by the Greeks and, today is 15% of production, created floral, honeyed wines. It?s often blended with Ugni Blanc, Biancu Gentile.

 

 

Regions: 9 AOC/AOP regions and the I?lle de Beauté IGP

 

Ile de Beauté 

Representing about 2/3 of production, this IGP allows for all 40+ grape varieties grown on the island ? it?s a cross section of all the native grapes of so many countries, from Spain to Italy to France to Greece. These wines aremostly the cheap and cheerful set, but can be really good if the winemakers are like the AOP laws

 

Patrimonio AOC

Granted Corsica?s first AOC in 1968, Patrimonio is on the northern coast of the island, near the sea. Nielluccio is the lead grape with Grenache and Sciacarello used prominently in reds and rosés, and Vermentino in whites and sometimes rosés. The reds are aromatic, fruity and a bit smoky. The rosé is fuller bodied and the whites, are usually floral and full.

 

Ajaccio AOC

Granted its AOC in 1971, the AOC is along the west-southwest coast of Corsica. It contains some of the highest vineyards, up to 500 meters (1,600 feet) and has clay-based soils with granite, leading to wines with structure and fullness. Medium bodied, spicy reds and rosés are from the lead grape Sciacarello with Barbarossa, Nielluccio, Vermentino, Grenache, Cinsault, Carignan and others. Aromatic, dry whites are made of Ugni Blanc and Vermentino.

 

Muscat du Cap Corse AOC

An AOC for Vin Doux Naturel made in the northern peninsula of Corsica from Muscat Blanc à Petit Grains. Vineyards are on steep terraces, grapes are hand-harvested later in the season and the top wines are aromatic with candied fruit, beeswax and apricot. They are sweet but have excellent acidity.

 

 

Vin de Corse AOC and its sub regions

Vin de Corse AOC is a region-wide designation and represents 45% of all AOC wines produced in Corsica. This specific AOC is for the eastern seaboard of Corsica and it?s planted in the plain and rolling lands. Reds and rosé wines are at least 50% Nielluccio, Sciacarello, and Grenache with the other grapes like Grenache, Mourvèdre, Carignan, Cinsault, Aleatico, Barbarossa, Graciano. Reds tend to be rustic, full flavored, higher in alcohol and strong in tannin, the rosés are peppery, and the white is mainly minerally, floral Vermentino.

 

The 5 Vin de Corse sub-regions are: Coteaux du Cap Corse, Calvi, Figari, Porto Vecchio, Sartène. These sub-regions have lower yields than Vin de Corse and use the same grapes mentioned above.

Map: Vins de Corse

Vin de Corse-Coteaux du Cap Corse is in the northern peninsula of the island, which extends into the Ligurian Sea, which may be why there is salinity in the wines. The area is windy with schist-based soils, and ~ 50% of production is rosé with smaller proportions of red and white. The steeper site made interesting wines.

 

 

Vin de Corse-Calvi is in the northwest corner of Corsica with vineyards along the coast and in the foothills of Corsica?s mountains creating many mesoclimates. This area contains some of the oldest vineyards in Corsica and producers are 100% organic or in transition to it. The wines are of a similar breakdown to Coteaux du Corse.

 

 

Vin de Corse-Porto Vecchio is on the southeastern coast near the Golfe de Porto-Vecchio, a bay that provides shelter from winds. Porto Vecchio has granite-based soils with some alluvial areas in flatter lands. The wines are similar to others in the Vin de Corse AOCs.

 

 

Vin de Corse-Figari is he oldest vineyard area in Corsica, likely cultivated since the 5th century BC. It is on the southern tip of the island and is relatively flat, with granite-based soils sunny but a harsh and very windy climate. It is hard to grow grapes here yet there are many young winegrowers, who are very terroir focused.

 

Vin de Corse-Sartène is a hilly area northwest of Figari, that experiences strong winds. With granite soils the reds are spicy and rich, the rosés fruity and the whites light.

 

Producers we mention:

Clos D?Alzeto, Domaine Vico, Clos Venturi, Domaine Comte Abbatucci (known for cultivating native vines), Domaine Antoine Arena (biodynamic), Domaine De Torraccia (advocate for quality Corsican wines), Clos Canarelli

________________________________________________

Thanks for our sponsors this week:

Wine Access: Access to the best wines for the best prices! For 15% off your next order, go to www.wineaccess.com/normal

If you think our podcast is worth the price of a bottle or two of wine a year, please become a member of Patreon... you'll get even more great content, live interactions and classes! 

www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

To register for an AWESOME, LIVE WFNP class with Elizabeth go to: www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes

2021-11-30
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Ep 401: Easy Wine Cocktails to Make You the Hero of Holiday Hosting

Wine is essential to the Thanksgiving meal, and of course we discuss some pairing strategies as we do every year. Our quick ?greatest hits? is from the TV spot I did with WWLP in Massachusetts, where I discussed wine pairing ? check it out here: https://www.wwlp.com/massappeal/picking-the-perfect-wine-for-thanksgiving/ 

After we do a review, the focus of this show is how to wow the crowd with easy wine cocktails. You can use what you have on hand or grab a few basic items and you'll become the holiday host of the season. We talk about these marvelous cocktails, with tips on how to make them, but as promised the links to the recipes are below.

 

1. Apple Cider Mimosa: The key to this one is to make sure you rim the glass with sugar and cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice. It?s not hard to add sparkling wine to apple cider, but the festive rim with it?s delicious spices will make the drink shine. Here?s the link to the recipe: : https://wine365.com/fall-cocktails/

 

2. Cranberry Mimosa: A variation on a theme, this time you want to use a little less cranberry juice and more sparkling wine to ensure the blend doesn?t taste too tart or bitter. Again, the key to a delicious drink is going to be the sugar-rimmed glass. Recipe: https://stressbaking.com/wprm_print/6796

 

3. Kir/Kir Royale: A classic wine cocktail from Burgundy, this couldn?t be easier to make. No recipe needed ? 2 parts Aligoté, Chablis, or an unoaked, fairly neutral wine with excellent acidity, to 1 part Crème de Cassis (dark red liqueur from blackcurrants) and you?re in business. If you want to go nuts, go for the Kir Royale and use Champagne or sparkling wine instead of dry white! 

Photo: Kir Royale from Pixabay

 

4. The New York Sour: According to Liquor.com, this drink has been around for at least 140 years (and they claim that despite the name, it originated in Chicago!). It?s a spin on a Whiskey Sour ? the classic with rye or bourbon, lemon juice, simple syrup, and, for a touch of salmonella, a raw egg white. This drink is the same ingredients, but after the Whiskey Sour is shaken and poured, you very slowly pour red wine on top and you get a pretty looking red wine float, which also adds some great fruitiness and acidity to the drink. Here are details: https://www.liquor.com/recipes/new-york-sour/

Photo: Unsplash

5. Hot Spiced Wine: I love this recipe because it include kirsch/cherry brandy. The base of the drink is red wine and kirsch but the get and go is all about the spices you add ? peppercorns, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, and various citrus zest make this wine cocktail really sing. A perfect wine for a cold, fall day. And you can make a huge vat of it ahead of time and reheat it for guests! Check out the recipe here: https://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/hot-spiced-wine

 

 

6. Murderer?s Row: I know I should have introduced this one for Halloween, but the fact that this cocktail includes Port, and I really love the idea of serving Port with dessert (but I understand you may not want a lot left over!), makes it an MVP for a big holiday meal. Crush up blackberries, then grab some Port, bourbon, lemon juice, pear juice, and simple syrup, shake it up and you will be the hero of the night?and feel free to rename the cocktail to (YOUR NAME HERE) Row! Recipe:  https://wine365.com/fall-cocktails/

Photo: Unsplash

7. The Paysan from the now closed restaurant, Poste in Washington, D.C.: As I say in the show, Chambord with anything pretty much wins the day for me. This wine cocktail is like a dream come true ? fruity red, cranberry juice, orange juice and Chambord with zests of various citrus fruits and BAM! A delicious wine cocktail is born. Here is the link to the recipe: https://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/paysan

 

8. The Francophile: I have no idea why the recipe here calls for Rioja when it?s called the Francophile so I?ve changed it to incorporate Bordeaux (Merlot-based, basic Bordeaux is perfect. It should have some tannin and acidity to offset the brandy). This is another variation of mulled wine, this time with Calvados, the apple-brandy that is an AOC and is required to be aged in oak before it?s released. You can go high rent or get another apple brandy, but either way, the combo of Calvados, Bordeaux, cinnamon simple syrup ,and lemon juice heated up will make you the hostess with the mostess/host with the most. Here is the recipe: https://www.liquor.com/recipes/francophile/

Photo: Unsplash

 

Happy Thanksgiving or happy fall ? either way, we are grateful to you for listening and for your support!!

 

________________________________________________

Thanks for our sponsors this week:

Wine Access: Access to the best wines for the best prices! For 15% off your next order, go to www.wineaccess.com/normal

If you think our podcast is worth the price of a bottle or two of wine a year, please become a member of Patreon... you'll get even more great content, live interactions and classes! 

www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

To register for an AWESOME, LIVE WFNP class with Elizabeth go to: www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes

2021-11-22
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Ep 400: 10 Things That Have Changed in Wine in the 10 Years of WFNP

Thank you for 10+ years and 400 episodes. We couldn?t do it without you! A VERY special thanks to our Patrons who have kept the show alive since 2018. 

In this show we discuss 10 things we've learned over the 400 episodes we've produced over the last 10+ years. Here's a quick summary...

1. Climate change is no longer a BS term. People are taking it seriously and being more positive about what to do about it

2. Change in the New World ? confidence, maturity, and even better wine

3. Change in the Old World ? a more wine-lover centric attitude

4. Don?t throw the baby out with the bathwater?wine styles have diversified, so make sure you try many examples before you say you dislike a grape or a region

5. The decline of the wine score?we still use them, but they carry a lot less weight and there are many of us who know they are highly biased and don?t give a lot of information to us

6. Balance is more important in wine than any one component

7. Consistency for WFNP (and for wine) is never going away?but changing your mind with new facts is ok!

8. Everything in wine changes, everything in wine stays the same?

9. You can get a great bottle for $9, if you know what to look for

10. A riff on #4 ? sometimes wines that are bad sippers are great with food. It?s sometimes imbalance in a sipper that makes it perfect with food (yes, it contradicts #6 but this is a special circumstance ? food changes a lot of things with wine. And that?s wine?full of consistency, full of contradiction!)

 

Cheers to another 400 episodes -- we'll make them as long as you keep listening! 

__________________________

Thanks for our sponsors this week:

Wine Access: Access to the best wines for the best prices! For 15% off your next order, go to www.wineaccess.com/normal

If you think our podcast is worth the price of a bottle or two of wine a year, please become a member of Patreon... you'll get even more great content, live interactions and classes! 

www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

To register for an AWESOME, LIVE WFNP class with Elizabeth go to: www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes

2021-11-16
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Ep 399: Basilicata, Italy and the Wines of Aglianico del Vulture

Basilicata is a tiny region that represents the arch of the Italy?s boot -the small area that borders Calabria in the west, Puglia in the east, Campania in the north and the Gulf of Taranto in the south.

In this, Italy?s 3rd least populous region, wine has been made for thousands of years but today, what remains is just 2,006 ha/5,000 acres of vineyards, which is 0.15% of Italy?s total wine production. Of the 2% that is DOC wine, there is a shining star ? a wine that can rival the best of the best in all of Italy ? Aglianico del Vulture (ahl-LYAh-nee-koh del VOOL-too-ray). In this show we discuss the background of this southern Italian region and discuss the jewel in its crown.

 

 

Here are the show notes?

We first discuss the location and land of Basilicata

In the southern Apennines, Basilicata is the most mountainous region in the south of Italy. 47% is covered by mountains, 45% is hilly, and only 8% is plains. The west is the hillier area, the east runs into flatter land into Puglia. There is a small stretch of coastline between Campania and Calabria and a longer one along the Gulf of Taranto, between Puglia and Calabria.

Photo: Getty Images

We do a good look at the history of Basilicata, but the highlights are:

People (or really ancestors of modern people) have inhabited the area since Paleolithic times. Matera is considered one of the oldest continuous civilizations in the world. Its Sassi district, which has now become a UNESCO World Heritage Site, has caves on a rocky hillside that were inhabited by people as far back as the Paleolithic times. Greeks settled in Basilicata from at least the 8th c BCE and likely brought Aglianico with them. Basilicata has been conquered by nearly everyone who paraded through southern Italy over the centuries. In the 1970s and 80s there was a renaissance in wine in Basilicata but it didn?t last. Today, there is renewed hope and investments, as a new generation of winemakers takes over their family domaines, establishes new properties and combines traditional and modern winemaking to make excellent wines.

 

We mention several DOCs of Basilicata:

Photo of Matera: Getty Images

Matera DOC was granted in 2005

It is 50 ha / 124 acres, and produces about 11,200 cases per year REDS: Matera Primitivo (90%+ Primitivo/Zinfandel grape), Matera Rosso (at least 60% Sangiovese and 30% Primitivo), and Matera Moro, (a minimum of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Primitivo and 10% Merlot). There are basic and Riserva levels Whites: Matera Greco (85%+ Greco), Matera Bianco (minimum of 85% Malvasia Bianca di Basilicata) There is also spumante (sparkling) made in the Champagne method

 

Grottino di Roccanova DOC was granted in 2009

8 ha / 20 acres, and producers about 3,000 cases per year White/Bianco (Minimum of 80% Malvasia Bianca di Basilicata) Red/Rosso: Sangiovese with Cabernet Sauvignino, Malvasia Nera di Basilicata, Montepulciano

 

Terre dell?Alta Val d?Agri DOC was granted in 2003.

At 11 ha / 27 acres, the area makes a mere 3,840 cases a year. Vineyards can be no higher than 800 m/ 2,625 ft Red/Rosato: Rosso (Minimum 50% Merlot; minimum 30% Cabernet Sauvignon; maximum 20% other red grapes). Riserva and regular versions

Photo: Getty Images, Val d?Agri

 

We spend the rest of the show discussing  Aglianico del Vulture DOC/DOCG, which is 25% of Basilicata?s total production

Vulture?s land?

Vulture is an extinct volcano that was last active about 130,000 years ago. It is 56 km/35 miles north of Potenza at an altitude of 1,326m/4,350 ft, close to borders with Puglia and Campania. Woods surround the area and the top of the slope has more volcanic soils and lower lying vineyards have more mixed, colluvial, and clay soils. The elevations are specified by the DOC ? too low or too high and you won?t get great flavor development or quality wine, so the range is 200-700 m/660 -2300 ft. The variety of soils, elevations and exposures mean that there are different styles of Aglianico del Vulture.


Photo: Getty Images

Vulture?s climate?

Vulture is continental in climate and it has lower average daily temperatures than Sicily or Tuscany. There are cool breezes that sweep in from the Adriatic, cooling the area and preventing humidity. Elevation also keeps things cooler, especially at night, which means the grapes experience a long growing season, building flavor in the hot sun during the day, and cooling at night to hoard acidity.  The rain shadow of Mount Vulture also keeps the weather cool and dry.  That said, in some years the drought is fierce, grapes can get sunburned, the tannins can be tough, and the wine can be overly alcoholic.

 

 

Characteristics of Aglianico del Vulture

Aglianico is a thick-skinned grape that needs mineral-rich soils with clay and limestone (like what is on Vulture). It can be overcropped, so careful tending to the grapes leads to better results (this is kind of a dumb thing to say, since that?s the case with all grapes, but I?m putting it out there anyway!).

 

Flavors range in Aglianico del Vulture. Younger wines are high in tannins and acidity, with black cherry, chocolate, flowers, minerals, dark-fruit, and shrubby, forest notes. With a few years (5 or more), you may get nuances of Earl gray tea, black tea, licorice, earth, tar, spice, and violets. The tannins calm with age, but the acidity remains ? with age (7-10 years) these wines are pretty impressive. We discuss the fact that there are some lighter styles and some savory, complex ones, but most are minerally with tannin in some form.

Photo of Aglianico: Getty Images 

Aglianico del Vulture was made a DOC in 1971

It is 520/1,284 acres, and it?s average production is 235,000 cases The wine is red or spumante ? all is 100% Aglianico (the sparkling must be made in the Champagne method). Reds are required to be aged for 9-10 months in a vessel of the producer?s choice before release (oak isn?t required). Spumante must rest for 9 months on the lees.

Photo: Monte Vulture, Getty Images

Aglianico del Vulture Superiore DOCG/ Riserva Superiore DOCG was created in 2010.

It is within the Aglianico del Vulture DOC but is only 89 ha/220 acres Production is much smaller, at 6,670 cases. The wine is 100% Aglianico. Superiore is required to spend 12 months in oak, 12 months in a bottle, cannot be sold until at least three years after harvest. Superiore Riserva spends 24 months in oak, 12 in bottle, and cannot be released until at least 5 years after harvest. Both categories must reach a minimum of 13.5% ABV (basically a guarantee that the grapes are ripe!)

 

 

In the show we discuss the food of Basilicata and mention a few specialties:

M.C. Ice was surprised that in this area, bread crumbs were a cheese substitute, sprinkled over pasta, meat, and vegetables. Horseradish is common here, along with Italian hot peppers, beans, pork sausage, and the famed bread of Matera, which is a Protected Georgraphical Indication and uses wheat grown locally and a yeast infused with fruit.

 

 

Producers are vital to getting a quality wine. This is my list?

D?Angelo (Split into D?Angelo and Donato D?Angelo recently, and each is good) Paternoster (recently sold to Veneto?s Tommasi family) Cantine del Notaio Elena Fucci Terre degli Svevi /Re Manfredi Grifalco Eubea and Basilisco (both small-production bottlings) Bisceglia (we were drinking the 2018 Terre di Vulcano, which was about $18)

DOC wines are around US$20/GBP£15, DOCG wines are more like US$45/GBP£43.

 

__________________________

Thanks for our sponsors this week:

Wine Access: Access to the best wines for the best prices! For 15% off your next order, go to www.wineaccess.com/normal

 

If you think our podcast is worth the price of a bottle or two of wine a year, please become a member of Patreon... you'll get even more great content, live interactions and classes! 

www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

To register for an AWESOME, LIVE WFNP class with Elizabeth go to: www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes

_____________________________

Some interesting sources I used for this show:

Italian Wine Central (Great for data on DOCs/DOCGs) "The Wines of Basilicata Paradise Lost and Found" 4/17, Vinous, by Ian d?Agata  NY Times Article on Aglianico
2021-11-08
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Ep 398: The Grape Miniseries -- Merlot Revisited

Photo: www.medoc-bordeaux.com

10 years after the first show on Merlot (Episode 18!), it was time for a refresh!

 

Merlot hasn't staged a comeback as a varietal wine, but it shines brightly as a part of a Bordeaux-style blend. It's better than ever in its native home and has seen some real strides in New World regions too.

 

We discuss characteristics and background of the grape, the very particular conditions that it needs for quality (but often doesn't get), and then the major regions that grow Merlot well! 

 

It's International Merlot Day on November 7, so grab a bottle and celebrate this outstanding grape. 

_________________________________________________________

Thanks for our sponsors this week:

Wine Access: Access to the best wines for the best prices! For 15% off your next order, go to www.wineaccess.com/normal

 

If you think our podcast is worth the price of a bottle or two of wine a year, please become a member of Patreon... you'll get even more great content, live interactions and classes! 

www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

To register for an AWESOME, LIVE WFNP class with Elizabeth go to: www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes

2021-11-03
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Ep 397: The World of Online Wine Auctions with WineBid CEO Russ Mann

WineBid is the largest online auction site for wine and it's been around for 25 years. Founded in 1996 by a wine collector in Chicago, WineBid has grown over the years to develop the technology, logistics, and customer service to acquire over 100,000 registered bidders.

 

Russ Mann, CEO WineBid

 

In this show, Russ Mann, CEO of WineBid, breaks down the entire wine auction market ? from live -scratching-your-nose-to-bid events, to charity auctions, to online auctions. I can?t tell you how much I learned from this show and how excited I am to start bidding and buying wine from WineBid. I was hesitant before but I think I can do this -- you should listen and you'll feel the same! 

 

___________________________________

Registration for the FREE Wines of the Médoc Class is here: 

 

Session 2, October 28, at 8 PM Eastern

 

Thanks for our sponsors this week:

Wine Access: Access to the best wines for the best prices! For 15% off your next order, go to www.wineaccess.com/normal

To become a member of Patreon go to www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

To register for an AWESOME, LIVE WFNP class with Elizabeth go to: www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes

2021-10-25
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Ep 396: Halloween Candy and Wine Pairings Revisited

We scoured the internet to find commonly recommended pairings, so we could actually try them and tell you if any of these things actually work. Much like our prior episode, the news isn?t great, but we did find a few diamonds in the rough, including an extremely surprising combo that I thought could be lethal! Patrons Kelsey and Colby Eliades guest host with me to power through this episode and sum up the things we learned about candy pairings ? what works, what doesn?t, and why!

 

Here are the combos we tested?

Pop rocks with Prosecco

 

Candy corn with Prosecco and Moscato d?Asti


Gummy worms with Rosé

 

Sour Patch Kids with off-dry Riesling

 

Starburst and Moscato d?Asti

 

Twizzlers, and Swedish Fish with Beaujolais

 

Kit Kat with Pinot Noir

 

Peppermint Patties with Syrah

 

Reese?s Peanut Butter cups and Reese?s Pieces with Lambrusco  


Hershey's bars and Whoppers with Zinfandel


Port-style Zinfandel with M&Ms, Snickers, Twix, Heath bar

 

And, so concludes my attempt at pairing wine with Halloween candy. We did the encore, I am so thankful for Kelsey and Colby for participating, and now I'm never doing this again ???!

 

____________________________________________________________

Registration for the FREE Wines of the Médoc Class is here: 

Session 1, October 21 at 8 PM Eastern

Session 2, October 28, at 8 PM Eastern

 

Thanks for our sponsors this week:

Wine Access: Access to the best wines for the best prices! For 15% off your next order, go to www.wineaccess.com/normal

To become a member of Patreon go to www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

To register for an AWESOME, LIVE WFNP class with Elizabeth go to: www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes

2021-10-19
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Ep 395: Walla Walla, Washington's Caprio Cellars and Its Estate Wines

Caprio Cellars makes wines from estate vineyards in the Walla Walla viticultural area of eastern Washington. Owner and winemaker, Dennis Murphy crafts wines mainly from Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot from his three Walla Walla vineyards, one of which is named after his Italian grandmother Eleanor Caprio, and another for his great grandmother Sanitella Caprio.

In the show, Dennis shares some good information about Walla Walla and its climate, soils, and the region?s unique position in the wine world. The bulk of the show is dedicated to my conversation with him, and he gives us a different perspective from others we?ve talked to in Walla Walla, like Sleight of Hand Cellars (who doesn?t love Jerry Solomon and Episode 295) and Amavi/ Pepperbridge (Eric McKibben rocks out Episode 294). But a lot of Dennis's references are to seminal figures in the Walla Walla wine industry.

 

Photo: Dennis Murphy, Caprio Cellars

Given that, in the first part of the show, I spend a few minutes telling you about the founding figures in the Walla Walla wine industry.  Not only does this help in explaining the references, it sets you up to understand all of Walla Walla -- if you ever talk to anyone about the region or go visit, these names will come up over and over again. They are...

 

Norm McKibben. A founding father of Walla Walla?s wine industry, and he founded Pepper Bridge Cellars and Amavi. His mentorship, forward thinking attitude (he was an early proponent of sustainability), and openness are a big part of the success of Walla Walla.


Jean-Francois Pellet is the Director of Winemaking and a partner at Pepper Bridge and Amavi. He was born and raised in Switzerland, and is a third-generation wine grower. After working in vineyards around Europe and for Heitz Cellars in the Napa Valley, he was recruited by Norm to Pepper Bridge  and also helped start Amavi. He is an active partner in the businessl and an important force in the Walla Walla wine scene.


Marty Clubb is Managing Winemaker and co-owner of L?Ecole N° 41 with his wife, Megan, and their children, Riley and Rebecca.  Megan?s parents, Jean and Baker Ferguson, founded L?Ecole in 1983. In 1989, Marty and Megan moved to Walla Walla and Marty became manager and winemaker of L?Ecole.  Marty, along with Norm McKibben and Gary Figgins (see below) were the three most important figures in starting viticulture in the Walla Walla Valley.  Marty is one of the most revered figures in Walla Walla.

 

Gary Figgins is the founder of Leonetti Cellar, which was Walla Walla?s first commercial winery. The Figgins family has been in Walla Walla for over a century and Gary learned viticulture from his uncles, who were farmers. He is self-taught and has done miraculous things for Walla Walla ? Leonetti?s wines were among the first to gain high scores and national recognition for the valley. Gary and his wife Nancy passed on the winery to their kids, Chris and Amy, but Gary is a major figure in the development of Walla Walla and is still active in vineyard consulting.

 

Christophe Baron is a native of Champagne and came to Walla Walla in 1993 while doing an internship at a vineyard in Oregon. He saw the famed ?rocks? of the Milton-Freewater district that looked like the puddingstone in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, and decided to buy 10 acres for his Cayuse Vineyards. The waitlist for the winery is many years deep, so Cayuse?s wines are only available to us on the secondary market (auctions and stuff ? there is a podcast to come on auctions that will make that secondary market easy to understand!). He's essential to helping make Walla Walla wine a coveted, hard to get luxury!

 

Dennis Murphy mentions other important wineries: Gramercy Cellars, Va Piano, and Hanatoro, to name a few! 

 

Finally, we discuss a few vineyards:

Seven Hills and Sevein: These are top vineyards of Walla Walla. They have unique soils and are managed by the founding fathers of Walla Walla ? Norm McKibben, Marty, Clubb, Gary Figgins, and a few others, with many top wineries sourcing from this land.

Photo: Seven Hills Vineyard

After the intro, Dennis and I discuss Caprio, and its vineyards and its wines, which are quite tasty. Dennis discusses winemaking techniques, viticulture and sustainability, and his unique, very welcoming hospitality model. He has recently purchased a stake in Pepper Bridge and Amavi, so we discuss that briefly as well.

 

If you haven't been to Walla Walla, put it on the list. In many ways it represents the. best of the American wine industry -- collegial, entrepreneurial, with a focus on hard work and quality. Who could ask for more?

 

Photo: Caprio Cellars

_________________________________________________________________

Registration for the FREE Wines of the Médoc Class is here: 

Session 1, October 21 at 8 PM Eastern

Session 2, October 28, at 8 PM Eastern

 

Thanks for our sponsors this week:

Wine Access: Access to the best wines for the best prices! For 15% off your next order, go to www.wineaccess.com/normal

To become a member of Patreon go to www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

To register for an AWESOME, LIVE WFNP class with Elizabeth go to: www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes

2021-10-12
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Ep 394: Germany Overview

After 10.5 years of doing the podcast I realized that we have never done an overview of Germany! Details, yes, but never the whole deal. Well, now we have.

Photo credit: Pexels

We discuss an overview of the most important things to know about Germany so you can buy and try the wines more easily. We begin with an overview of the German wine industry, and a reassurance that most of the stuff for export is pretty darn good. Then we tackle the climate and land, both which are completely unlikely places for great viticulture, but for a few dedicated people and a few quirks in geography.

 

We talk about the major grapes (spoiler alert: Riesling is huge here) and then we discuss various wine styles before giving an overview of the very rich history here, which is meant to give you context for how long Germany has been in the winemaking game and how significant the country has been in wine.

 

The second half of the show is an overview of the major regions in Germany and then we wrap with a quick discussion of the classification system, which hopefully makes much more sense once you hear about the history, climate, and terroir of Germany.

 

I love German wine. I think you could too, if you don?t already. I hope that this show (and the Germany section in the WFNP book, which gives a lot of great detail) can convince you to put it in the rotation more often!

 

Here are the show notes:

German wine regions are mainly in the southern and southwestern part of Germany, and are quite northerly, many at around 50-51?N latitude There are 103,000ha/252,00 acres of vineyards 2/3 of the wine is white, with Germany?s wine reputation pinned to Riesling Most people who make wine in Germany are small producers by New World standards. 25,000 cases/300,000 bottles is considered a huge winery, whereas in the US that?s on the small side of medium!

Photo of Riesling: Canva/Getty

Climate and land

Germany is a cool climate country, grapes can only grow and ripen because of the Gulf stream from western Europe and the warmer air the comes in from Eastern Europe Rainfall in Germany?s wine regions occurs DURING the growing season, not during harvest. There is significant disease pressure on the vineyards but irrigation is not an issue and the long, dry fall enables easier harvesting and allows for late harvest wines to flourish

The very steep slopes face south, southeast, or southwest. The slopes experience intense solar radiation, helping ripen the grapes


Photo (C)Wine For Normal People: Slate in the Mosel

Slate is a preferred soil in Germany because it retains heat and imparts spicy, minerally notes to the wine

Grapes of Germany

Riesling is about 23% of production Müller-Thurgau is about 12% Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir) is 11.5% Dornfelder (a red) is about 7.6% Grauburgunder (Pinot Gris) is 6% Weisburgunder (Pinot Blanc) is 5% Silvaner is 4.8% And many other grapes are grown in small percentages all over the country

 

Wine regions: We review all 13 Anbaugebiete...
Map from the Wine For Normal People Book

Ahr is the northernmost region. It is small and grows a majority of red wine, mainly spätburgunder

Baden is Germany?s southernmost region and accordingly it is the warmest, sunniest region. It is close to France, and grows a lot of Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and Pinot Blanc as a result

Franken is known for its flagon ? a flat, round-shaped bottle called a bocksbeutel. The regions specializes in earthy, white Silvaner from the limestone shores of the Main River

Hessische Bergstrasse is a teeny region with Riesling as the lead. You don?t see these wines outside of Germany

Mittelrhein is in the middle of the Rhine (fitting name, huh!?). It is dominated by Riesling, which grows on steep slate slopes

Mosel is the most famed region in Germany and makes what many consider to be the best Riesling in the world. The first winegrowing in Germany was in Mosel and it contains the steepest vineyard: at 65? grade, Bremmer Calmont has this distinction. Slate soils are dominant and the wines are known for low alcohol levels, high acidity, pure fruit and floral (jasmine, gardenia) notes, along with strong minerality. They are generally off-dry to sweet, to offset the very powerful acidity the terroir imparts to Riesling.

Photo (C)Wine For Normal People

Nahe is located around the river Nahe, the volcanic soils create wines with fuller, richer textures than in other parts of Germany. It is a medium-sized area and not all vineyards or wineries are created equal ? there are excellent producers and less good ones too!

Pfalz is the second largest area after Rheinhessen. It is consumed heavily in the domestic market and can make rich, fuller stules of dry Riesling because the climate is slightly warmer. Red wines are growing here as well, given the warm conditions and the ability to fully ripen red grapes.

Rheingau is the home of Riesling, the creator of Spätlese and Auslese, and highest percentage of Riesling (nearly 80%) and the home of Geisenheim University, one of the best viticulture and oenology schools in the world. The wines range in sweetness and in stule but they are subtler than Mosel wines and tend to develop intricate flavors of petrol, flowers, chamomile tea, and herbs with a few years in the bottle.
Photo (C) Wine For Normal People

Rheinhessen is the largest production area in Germany. It has the dubious distinction of being nicknamed ?Liebfraumilch land? from its mass production of the sweet plonk that kind of tanked Germany?s reputation. Rheinhessen has tried to shirk that image and focus on quality wine made from Riesling. The areas of Nackenheim, Nierstein, and Oppenheim can produce excellent quality wine.

Wurttemberg specializes in red wines that aren?t grown in other parts of Germany ? Trollinger, Lemberger (Blaufränkisch), and Schwarzriesling (Pinot Meunier) are all big here.

Saale-Unstrut and Sachsen are in the former East Germnay. Both specialize in dry wine and are at 51?N latitude. The wines are improving with the help of climate changes and better viticultural practices.

 

Finally we tackle the levels of German Classification:

Deutscher Tafelwein: German Table Wine, consumed domestically Deutscher Landwein: German Country wine like Vins d?Pays in France or IGP in Italy, consumed domestically QbA (actually stands for Qualitätswein bestimmter Anbaugebiete): Wines from a defined region. It can be blended from a few regions but generally it?s from one of the Anbaugebiete, so you?ll see Mosel, Pfalz, Rheingau, etc on the bottle Prädikatswein is made from grapes with higher ripeness levels. The levels are: Kabinett: Ripe grapes. Can be dry or sweet Spätelese: Late Harvest wines. Can be dry or sweet Auslese: Select Harvest wines. Can be dry or sweet, very flavorful wines Beerenauslese: Berries of the Select Harvest. Always sweet, generally have experienced the effects of botrytis so the wines are honeyed, waxy, and apricot like. Berries are selected off the vines for the best of the bunch Trockenbeerenauslese: Dried Berries of Select Harvest. Always sweet, very rare. Grapes are very ripe must have been affected by botrytis. The grapes are raisined with very high concentration of sugar. Very expensive and rare wines Eiswein: Grapes are harvested after the first frost. The water in the grapes freezes, the winemakers squeeze out the frozen water and then press the sugar that remains. These wines should not be affected by botrytis

 

We wrap up with other terms that are good to know:

Trocken means the wine is dry Halbtrocken wines are off-dry and can seem very sweet Feinherb wines are sweeter or as sweet as halbtrocken wines The VDP: A private marketing organization of about 200 producers around Germany, with its own standards of quality that it expects its members to live up to. Not all great producers are VDP members but it is a safe bet if you know nothing about the wine

VDP Logo

Weingut is a winegrowing and wine-producing estate Gutsabfüllung refers to a grower/producer wine that is estate bottled

 

Much of the data for the podcast was sourced from the Wines of Germany

________________________________________

Thanks for our sponsors this week:

Wine Access: Access to the best wines for the best prices! For 15% off your next order, go to www.wineaccess.com/normal

To become a member of Patreon go to www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

To register for an AWESOME, LIVE WFNP class with Elizabeth go to: www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes

2021-10-04
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Ep 393: A Trip to Vinho Verde and a Fresh Outlook on these Wines

I need to thank the Commission of Vinho Verde for hosting this trip to the region and setting up such wonderful experiences that really gave a 360? view of this region.

Photo: ©Wine For Normal People, Vineyards of Aveleda

After talking about a wonderful tasting at Graham?s Port Lodge in Vila Nova di Gaia (across the Douro from Porto) and Quinta do Noval, we discuss some important things about Vinho Verde that augment Episode 291 from my time there. This show is not about the base tier wines ? fizzy, cheap and cheerful versions, but about the premium wines that are single grape varieties and made in interesting ways. It?s a look into the diversity that Vinho Verde has to offer, beyond what you may know!

 

We discuss some key points on Vinho Verde:

There are nine subregions (see below for more detail). Depending on whether they are in the north or the south, closer to the Atlantic or inland, styles and grapes vary enormously.

 

We talk about the thing that wowed me the most: how very different the aromas and flavors of wines of this region are based on the soil they grow on ? granite v. schist

 

We discuss the main grapes and their general flavor profiles:

Loureiro: A grape with herbal bitterness, that?s floral, and creamy. It?s the top grape of coastal areas.

Arinto: The MVP that adds acidity and minerality to blends, this is the base of most Vinho Verde sparkling wine. Trajadura: Although very light in flavor with low acidity, it adds body to blends. I found it tastes like stems ? woody but not oaky. It?s great with Loureiro and Alvarinho.

Alvarinho: The same grape as Albariño from Rias Baixas on the western coast of Spain. Here the grape seems more tropical, but more acidic because unlike the Spanish, the producers in Vinho Verde do not put the wine through malo-lactic fermentation so the acidity is a bit sharper. The grape is from this region and interesting versions show rosemary and other savory herbal notes with salinity. We discuss the various permutations of the grape ? there is experimentation with oak, amphora, eggs (stainless steel and concrete), and extended skin contact and what those versions are like.

Avesso: An unusual grape, it represents only 2-3% of production because it is so tricky to grow. When it is good it is like pears, red apple, flowers and the texture is creamy, even though it doesn?t undergo malolactic fermentation. It?s a grape/wine worth seeking out.

Azal: A rare grape grown only in some of the subregions, it is like citrus and herbs. It is usually marked for blending but the varietal wines are high in minerality and acidity and not short on fruit flavor.

Photo: ©Wine For Normal People, Arinto Grape in Sousa

And the reds:

Vinhão: In its best form smells good ? like incense, violets and lilies, but I found it can also smell like goat poop, band-aid, and dirt. It is lower in alcohol and very acidic (some versions are tannic). An inky, light style red with lots of flavor, this is really a local wine, made in a very local style, not for broader consumption. It is used in rosé but often blended with Touriga Nacional, the famed grape of the Douro/Port.

Espadeiro: Another hard to grow grape, it is late ripening and tastes of strawberry and cherry. It is used for rosé. As well.

Touriga Nacional: A lighter version of Portugal?s star grape from just over the mountains in the Douro.

 

 

Regions and their main grapes:

Lima: Herbal, fresh and grassy Loureiro is their wine. The wines are lovely.

 

 

Ave: Both single variety wines and blends of Loureiro, Arinto, Trajadura, Alvarinho. The Alvarinho + Trajadura blend is common and produces green herb, tangerine notes. Producer: Sao Giao

 

 

Cavado: Similar to Lima, with fresh Loureiro and some Arinto for very acidic sparkling wine, Alvarinho that is peachy, floral and acidic.

 

 

Sousa specializes in floral, talc-like and acidic Loureiro , Arinto for sparkling and for blending to add body to Loureiro, Alvarinho as the more serious wine that has lime and flint notes, and Trajadura, which is light and rounds out blends. Producers: Quinta da Lixa, Quinta das Arcas (Arca Nova)


Photo: ©Wine For Normal People, Quinta das Arcas in Sousa

 Amarante is in the southeast. It makes a lot of different grapes but we focused on the Avesso grape, which is floral, like pears and red apples, bready (from lees contact) and creamy, as is the nature of the grape.  I love this grape, it belongs in the full whites category with Rhone whites, Priorat whites, Verdejo, and Fiano. Producers: A&B Valley Wines, Curvos

 

 

Basto is in the southeast as well, with Douro on the other side of the mountains. Avesso, Arinto, Azal, and Alvarinho are the main grapes. Azal is a rare grape that is acidic with green apple, citrus, herbal, lemon, grass, mineral notes and and acidic yet savory quality. (I mention that only about 10 -15 pure Azals made in the world, Quinta da Razas in one of them). Producer: Quinta da Razas

 

Photo: ©Wine For Normal People, Harvest team at Quinta da Raza in Basto

Monçao e Melgaço  is the home of Alvarinho! There is traditional Alvarinho and then there is so much experimentation with the grape that flaovrs range enormously. The standard bearers show tropical fruit, lime, and floral notes with characteristic strong acidity because the wines don?t go through malolactic fermentation. Granite v schist soils make a difference and any number of styles from sparkling to oak aged, to amphora aged to skin contact wines are being made. Producers: Soalheiro, Adega de Monçao, Quinta da Santiago.

 

I did not visit the subregions of Paiva and Baiao so we don?t discuss them in the show, but they are in the south and specialize in Arinto, Avesso, Azal, with some Loureiro.

 

All in all it was a lovely trip! The producers are open to the public, so it?s an easy and fun few days to plan if you love white wines and want to learn something new!

 

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Thanks for our sponsors this week:

Wine Access: Access to the best wines for the best prices! For 15% off your next order, go to www.wineaccess.com/normal

 

To become a member of Patreon go to www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

 

 

To register for an AWESOME, LIVE WFNP class with Elizabeth go to: www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes

2021-09-28
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Ep 392: The Greats -- Chablis

One of the greatest Chardonnays (and actually white wines) in the world comes from Chablis in the northern part of Burgundy. In this show we discuss this historic region and why it is capable of making the most distinctive, minerally, terroir-driven white wines made. 

 

Here are the show notes: 

Map: https://www.chablis-wines.com

Location: At nearly 48?N latitude in the northern part of the Bourgogne region in the Yonne department between Paris and Beaune, around the village of Chablis, Serein River runs through it, with vineyards on either bank Area under vine in 2020: 5,771 hectares/14,260 acres 18% of the total volume of wine produced in the Bourgogne region Also contains: St-Bris, which makes mineral driven Sauvignon Blanc

 

Terroir:

Terroir expressed more clearly in Chablis than almost anywhere else Valleys branch from the Serein river ? left and right, hills are basis of the vineyards Right-bank: softer, bigger wines Left-bank: more acidic, less ripe, more like citrus, green apple Soils: Subsoil is Kimmeridgean limestone with layers of Marl ?limestone and clay turned into rock sometimes with fossils of Exogyra virgula, a small, comma-shaped oyster. Different vineyards have different proportions of limestone, marl, clay, loam, Portlandian limestone ? younger, harder, no fossils. Sites with this used only forvPetit Chablis 47 Defined Climats (can be mentioned on the label) 40 are Premier Cru, 7 are Grand Cru

Photo: Chablis wines

Climate: Maritime and continental

Maritime influence but kind of a modified oceanic climate with continental influences from Eastern Europe Less rainfall and the winters are harsher and summer hotter than maritime

 

Winemaking

Fermented in stainless or oak, low temperature, slow fermentation followed by malolactic fermentation Neutral oak (already been used) is used in Chablis Premier Cru and Chablis Grand Cru. Very few producers use new oak barrels since the goal is to preserve terroir

 

 

Classification:

Petit Chablis (19%): 729 hectares (1750 acres)

ALL of Chablis wine-growing district (catchall) ? AOC 1944, least prestigious ? lesser rated vineyards Soil is Portlandian limestone ? harder, younger soil on a plateau at the top of slopes, above premier and grand crus Flavors: citrus, flowers, less minerally, light, acidic, saline, to be consumed within 2 years Pairings (goes for Chablis and many Premier Cru too): Oysters, seafood in citrus, salads and acidic vegetables, spicy food, vegetarian pasta

 

Chablis (66%): 3656 hectares (9,034 acres) of vines

In the department of Yonne, on the Serein River On Kimmeridgean limestone and marl, very large - quality varies Flavors: Mineral with flint, green apple, lemon, underbrush, citrus, mint, fresh-cut hay Best within 2-3 years

Photo: Chablis wines

Chablis Premier Cru: (14%) - Almost 809 ha/2,000 acres over 40 sites (climat)

Both sides of the river Serein, with 24 on the left bank and 16 on the right bank Mostly on slopes of the Serein, southeast or southwest facing, on Kimmeridgian chalk Can just use the phrase "Chablis Premier Cru" if blended across Premier Cru sites Right bank: Softer, fuller wines--Mont de Milieu, Montée de Tonnerre, Fourchaume, Vaucoupin Left bank: Flinty, acidic. Côté de Léchet, Vaillons, Montmains, Vosgros, Vau de Vey Can age 5-10 years

 

Grand Cru Chablis (1%) - 101 hectares/250 acres

Contiguous site on the right bank of the Serein, south facing on Kimmeridgian limestone, with fossilized oysters, marl Seven vineyards are Grand Cru, which are each part of just one appellation, Grand Cru Chablis. The difference in these wines: Better sites, lower yields, higher alcohol, higher planting density, matured until at least March 15 of the year following harvest Grand Crus: north to south Bougros: Fresh and mineral Les Preuses:: elegant, minerally with a long finish Vaudésir: Stronger, richer wine ? more body Grenouilles: Fruity with strong acidity, a fuller body Valmur: VERY fruity, balanced with strong minerality Les Clos: The most famous site: elegance, minerality, fruit, acidity Blanchot: Soft and more like white flowers La Moutonne is an unofficial 8th Grand Cru Best with 10-15 years of age Pairings: Lobster, mushrooms, shrimp, cream sauces

We love this wine. If you haven't had it, definitely get one and discover what makes it a "great!" 

Photo: Chablis wines

_____________________________________________________

Thanks for our sponsors this week:

Wine Access: Access to the best wines for the best prices! For 15% off your next order, go to www.wineaccess.com/normal

 

To become a member of Patreon go to www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

 

 

 

To register for an AWESOME, LIVE WFNP class with Elizabeth go to: www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes

2021-09-21
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Ep 391: Édouard Miailhe - Dynamic leader of the Margaux AOC & 5th Generation Owner of Château Siran


Château Siran is an historic and innovative estate on the Left Bank of Bordeaux, in the commune of Margaux. Once owned by the painter Toulouse-Lautrec?s great-grandmother, in the mid-1800s Siran was purchased by ancestor of Édouard Miailhe?s family and today he is the 6th generation to run Siran.

 

Miailhe, like many of the most interesting people in the wine industry, had an entire career doing something other than wine (in his case finance and real estate in the Philippines) until his mother and father retired about 15 years ago and he decided to move back to France to run the Château. He likes to stay busy (and take on challenges) because in addition to being the leader of Château Siran in 2018, he took the difficult job of running the winegrowers association of Margaux, a post that was held by his predecessor for decades!

Photo: Team at Château Siran, Marjolaine Defrance, oenologist on the left, Édourard Miailhe center, Jean-Luc Chevalier, vineyard manager, right.

In this show Édouard does double duty ? telling us first about Margaux and then about the spectacular, very classic wines of Château Siran, which are an insane value and should be sitting in your cellar to age right now!

We discuss the Margaux AOC: the location, the climate, the (slight) elevation, the soil and the typical style of Margaux, plus how it differs from its close neighbors like Pauillac, St-Julien, Listrac, Moulis, and parts of the Haut-Médoc

Édouard shares a bit of the political landscape of the Margaux appellation, its long history (he is amazingly and refreshingly honest about this ? Margaux hasn?t always been fancy, glitzy and glamorous!) and talks about how Bordeaux was a very different place 35 years ago.

We talk about the grapes in Margaux and what each brings to the blends in the appellation (with special attention given to Petit Verdot).


Then we discuss Château Siran ?

We learn the history of the château and how the property wound up in the Miailhe family?s hands in 1859.

Édouard tells us about the fine gravels and subsoils of the region, the proximity of Siran to the river and its unique place in the Labade commune.

 

The blend and the role of Petit Verdot is featured -- they use up to up to 11% of the grape in some years. We also discuss Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.

We discuss the importance of sustainability ? Édouard?s father never sprayed chemicals in the vineyard so it has been free of pesticides for more than 40 years. His vines are old, healthy and full of character.

We talk about the Grand Vin ? Château Siran ? the blending, vinification, and aging. Then we discuss the other wines: S de Siran, the second wine Château Bel Air de Siran (Haut-Médoc) Château Saint-Jacques (Bordeaux Superieur)


We really get into the limitations of classifications and why Siran originally opted out of the 1855 Classification and why they recently decided to opt out of the Cru Bourgeois classification.


We close talking about how Château Siran is one of the few estates in the Médoc that people can visit. Let?s visit!!!

Photo credit: Château Siran

Other notes...

Chateaux mentioned: Château Giscours, Château Dauzac, Château Prieure-Lichine, Château Pichon-Lalande, Château Palmer, Château Margaux

Édouard also mentions Professor Denis Dubourdieu as wine consultant from St.-Émilion

Here?s a link to the video of Marjolaine Defrance, the enologist at Chateau Siran

 

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Thanks for our sponsors this week:

Wine Access: Access to the best wines for the best prices! For 15% off your next order, go to www.wineaccess.com/normal

 

To become a member of Patreon go to www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

 

 

 

To register for an AWESOME, LIVE WFNP class with Elizabeth go to: www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes

2021-09-13
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Ep 390: The Grape Miniseries -- Petit Verdot

Petit Verdot is often the secret weapon in a blend -- providing unique aromas and flavors plus acidity and tannin. In this show, we discuss this essential grape and the vital role it plays in wines around the world.

What is Petit Verdot?

The name means ?little green one?, since it's hard to ripen, the berries remain green when other grapes are ready to harvest The grape is used in Bordeaux blends but sometimes made as a varietal wine Petit Verdot ripens later than other varieties and is used for tannin, color and flavor, gives structure to mid palate

Photo: Virginia Wine

Origins: Around in Bordeaux before Cabernet Sauvignon

Could have been brought to Bordeaux by Romans Probably from Southwest France around the Pyrénées but gained recognition in the Médoc and Graves (on the Left Bank of Bordeaux) Plantings shrunk after phylloxera and the big 1956 frost in Bordeaux Petit Verdot was uprooted to be replaced in Bordeaux with Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon Now ? more being planted, can withstand heat and drought

 

The grape:

Small, thick-skinned berries that look almost black because of high anthocyanins -- lots of color and tannin! Early budding, late ripening -sometimes too late for the Bordeaux climate but that is changing (more similar to Cabernet Sauvignon than Merlot in the vineyards

 

In the vineyard:

Best on warm, well-drained, gravel-based soils  Canopy management to maximize sun exposure is important If the weather does not cooperate in the spring during flowering, the fruit will not ripen well  Sensitive to water stress


Winemaking:

Even in small amounts (0.5%!), Petit Verdot can make a big difference Most winemakers will age these wines in oak, fostering undercurrents of vanilla

 

Aromas/flavors:

Pencil shavings, violet, black fruit, spice, tannins, acidity Very acidic if not fully ripe but can be elegant and refreshing if it?s ripe Cool climate: Dried herbs (sage, thyme), blueberry, blackberry with violet, leathery, pencil shavings Warm climate: Jammy, spicy, dark fruit, full-bodied, decent acidity, high tannin

 

Old World

France

Almost all Petit Verdot in France is in the Médoc of Bordeaux Big proportions are in: Chateau Margaux, Chateau Palmer, Chateau Pichon Lalande (Pauillac), Chateau Lagrange in St. Julien, Chateau La Lagune, Chateau Siran in Margaux

Italy

Primarily in Tuscany in the Maremma Toscana DOC (we mention the PV by Podere San Cristoforo), and in Sicily in the Menfi and Sicilia DOCs. Some in Lazio and Puglia
Other Old World Places: Spain: Petit Verdot grow in warmer areas like Castilla y Leon, Jumilla, La Mancha, Alicante, Méntrida DO Portugal: Success in Alentejo Found in Turkey, Israel

 

New World

United States

Virginia: Often blended with Merlot of Cab Franc Needs free-draining soils (gravel is best) and high heat We get a firsthand account of PV from Elizabeth Smith of Afton Mountain, who makes outstanding wines. California: Napa, Sonoma, Paso Robles, Lodi, Central Valley used in Meritage/blends often, with a few boutique standalones Washington State: PV is grown and made in Columbia Valley, Walla Walla, Yakima, Red Mountain Other Places: Planted in Arizona, Colorado, Oregon, Texas, Michigan, PA, Maryland, New York, and more

 

Canada:

Okanagan Valley of BC, Niagara Peninsula in Canada

 

Australia

Used to make big bodied, lots of floral and dark fruit flavor single varietal wines. The grape has good acidity and tannin that will age for several years Ripens very late, often weeks or a month later than Shiraz Regions:  More bulk wine: Riverland, Murray Valley, Riverina, region is home to Australia?s largest plantings of Petit Verdot (which maintains acidity, even in heat) Better areas: McLaren Vale, Langhorne Creek, Barossa, Clare Valley, Coonawarra, and the Limestone Coast.

 

 

Argentina

Every region from Patagonia to Calcahquí but mostly in Mendoza -70% or more is there. Verdot has good results in Bordeaux style blends

Other South America: Peru, Chile, Uruguay ? in blends and a varietal wine

 

South Africa:

Mainly in Bordeaux blends and as a varietal too

 

Food Pairings with PV:

Grilled or roasted red meat or hearty vegetables Spicy pork and spicy foods in general ? Latin American spices

____________________________________________________________

Thanks for our sponsors this week:

Wine Access: Access to the best wines for the best prices! For 15% off your next order, go to www.wineaccess.com/normal

 

To become a member of Patreon go to www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

 

To register for an AWESOME, LIVE WFNP class with Elizabeth go to: www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes

 

2021-09-06
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Ep 389: Chateau Doyac and the Diversity of Terroir in the Haut-Medoc of Bordeaux

Photo: Château Doyac


In our continued exploration of the Médoc (which will culminate in two free, live, online classes that I hope you'll join or watch on YouTube afterwards), on the Left Bank of Bordeaux, I spoke with Astrid de Pourtalès, co-owner of Château Doyac. This property is a Cru Bourgeois Supérieur located in the northernmost part of the Haut-Médoc appellation that is unlike what you think of when you consider this region. This show presents a high level overview of a different part of the Médoc (versus Château Meyney, where Anne Le Naour gives a very detailed view of St-Estèphe) and a nice view of what a family owned château is like in the region.

 

Astrid de Pourtalès owns the château with her husband Max and her daughter Clémance. She discusses her experiences in being fairly new to Bordeaux after a career in the New York theater scene (they bought Château Doyac in 1998) and the bold move that Max made to transition Doyac to an ECOCERT certified organic vineyard in 2018 and then a Demeter certified biodynamic vineyard in 2019 (this is no small feat in Bordeaux, which has an erratic climate, we don?t go into extensive detail but it is an interesting contrast to the show with Sofía Araya of Veramonte in Chile who discusses biodynamics in that easier to farm area).

Photo: Château Doyac

Astrid tells us how they came to buy the château, the measures they took to improve it (including hiring famed consultant Eric Boissenot, who consults for the majority of the Grands Crus Classé in the Médoc), and the role her daughter, Clémance, an agronomist, will take in the future to run things for this small, high quality property that makes about 100,000 bottles/8,300 cases.

 

We discuss a number of high-level topics:

What it is like in the very northern part of the Haut-Médoc where the effects of the Atlantic and Gironde are stronger and the soil has a big proportion of limestone (Doyac's Sauvignon Blanc is on my list to try ? apparently it is reminiscent of Chablis - not a typo she says it's like a minerally Chardonnay!).

Map: Vacances-Location.net

We talk about the reasons Max pursued the organic and biodynamic paths for Château Doyac and the results: better, easier to work soils, and much improved vines and wines that demonstrate elegance, acidity, and pure fruit character (right now the mix is Merlot with Cabernet Sauvignon but in the future about 20% will be Cabernet Franc, with 70% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. Cabernet Franc is their most recent planting -- it does well on the limestone clay soils here).

 

Astrid discusses their second wine, Espirit de Doyac and their newest wines in Le Pelican line.

                               

Astrid tells us why Doyac uses amphora (you can listen to this podcast to really learn about that topic) and what the benefits of that is versus oak.

 

We wrap up with a discussion of the Cru Bourgeois and talk about the bright future for Château Doyac.

Photo from Les Grappes: Astrid and Max de Pourtalès
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Astrid mentions a few chateaux in the conversation. Here are links that will be helpful if you missed anything in the conversation:

Chateau de Malleret, Haut-Medoc, France ? the chateau Max?s father in law owned (Holy COW this is a huge château and gorgeous!)

 

Chateau Ferrière in Margaux (very pricey wines, BTW) where a group meets to discuss and mix teas for  biodynamics

 

We also talk about the Saint-Émilion Classification issues (Article) and the Cru Bourgeois.

 

____________________________________________________________

Thanks for our sponsors this week:

Wine Access: Access to the best wines for the best prices! For 15% off your next order, go to www.wineaccess.com/normal

 

 

To become a member of Patreon go to www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

 

 

To register for an AWESOME, LIVE WFNP class with Elizabeth go to: www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes

 

2021-08-31
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Ep 388: The Greats - Vino Nobile di Montepulciano

Photo: Consorzio del Vino Nobile di Montepulciano

The Nobile Wine of Montepulciano is a wine based on a clone of Sangiovese and from a small hillside town in Tuscany called Montepulciano. It is, indeed, one of the great wines of the world. Although often overshadowed by its neighbors ? Brunello di Montalcino and Chianti Classico ? and confused with a grapey, high yielding producer in Abruzzo (the Montepulciano grape), this wine has class, style, and a legacy of greatness to back it up.

 

After ups and downs over nearly 2000 years of winemaking, Vino Nobile is experiencing a quiet revival and it's one of my favorite wines in Italy. Moderate in body with an interplay of fruit, herb, and brooding tea and forest-y aromas and flavors, this is a wine that those in the know (you!) will immediately fall in love with. With its latest comeback, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is back and better than ever. And who doesn?t love a comeback story?

Photo: Getty Images

Here are the show notes:

We discuss where exactly this hillside town is: in Tuscany, southeast of Siena, 40 minutes east of Montalcino We talk about the specific regulations the region has built into law to try to improve the wines: Grapes must grow on the slopes to qualify for the Vino Nobile DOCG 70-100% Sangiovese or 30% other red varietals (Colorino, Canaiolo Nero, Mammolo, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, other local grapes) and up to 5% Malvasia and other whites You can find all the laws here, as well as the requirements for aging. Here is the official page from the Consorzio del Vino di Montepulciano with the latest rules on aging, yields, etc. They also have proposed Pieve, as of 2021.

We address the elephant in the room: Montepulciano IS not the grape, this wine is from the PLACE called Montepulciano!!! We get you squared away on the difference between these two wines ? Montepulciano is a grape that makes an US$8-$10 wine. Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is the noble wine made from Sangiovese in the Tuscan town of Montepulciano. It is based on a clone Sangiovese ? Prugnolo Gentile




History The wine has been noted since 55 AD. Montepulciano has been praised by merchants, authors, Popes, and politicians like Thomas Jefferson Phylloxera, mildews, World Wars, the Depression, and then an emphasis on quantity versus quality put the wines of Montepulciano in a real funk. It got lumped in with Chianti, lost its status, and that was a real setback for the region

In 2017, six like-minded Montepulciano winemakers created a small association called Alliance Vinum to show the purest expression of single-vineyard Sangiovese/Prugnolo Gentile. The group calls these wines Nobile instead of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano to avoid confusion with the southern Italian grape. Here are the wines of this group: Avignonesi: Nobile Poggetto di Sopra Boscarelli: Costa Grande Cantine Dei: Madonna della Querce La Braccesca, an estate of the Antinori family: Podere Maggiarino Poliziano: Le Caggiole after a 20-year pause, Salcheto: Salco Vecchie Viti

Photo: Getty Images

Other wines we mention?

Rosso di Montepulciano  Vin Santo 

 

We review Pairing Suggestions with Vino Nobile di Montepulciano:

Antipasti --Grilled Vegetables, fresh cheeses, cured meats like prosciutto, salami Pasta with tomato, truffle, Bolognese, mushrooms sauces Risottos with mushrooms Pizza, lasagna, eggplant Braised and roasted game, red meats. Stews. Portabella mushrooms Ribollita Hard cheeses

Photo: Getty Images

______________________________________________

Thanks for our sponsors this week:

Wine Access: Access to the best wines for the best prices! For 15% off your next order, go to www.wineaccess.com/normal

 

To become a member of Patreon go to www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

 

To register for an AWESOME, LIVE WFNP class with Elizabeth go to: www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes

2021-08-24
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Ep 387: Veramonte's Sofia Araya -- Organic, terroir-driven wine in Chile

Sofía Araya  - head winemaker of Veramonte, Ritual, Primus, and Neyen

Sofía Araya was born and raised in Chile and she has made wine in nearly every high quality valley of the country since she graduated from la Universidad de Chile. After years of working on conventional farms for some big names, she moved to Veramonte. She helped transition the over 500 ha/1,235 acres to 100% ECOCERT certified organic vineyards. Veramonte represents 15% of all organic vineyards in Chile.

 

Sofía is now the head winemaker and oversees the organic Veramonte and Ritual and the organic and biodynamic properties of Neyen and Primus.  All are under the umbrella of Sherry-based Gonzalez Byass.

 

Although this may seem like a mega-brand because of its excellent distribution, it actually turns out that Veramonte and its sister brands ? Ritual, Primus, and Neyen ? make just 200,000 cases of wine a year (2.4 million bottles) combined. That?s the size of a medium brand at a big hulking winery!

 

Two things that are important:

1. Sofía and I jump right in on the geography. It may be helpful to follow along with the WFNP map or to listen to this podcast we did on Chile before you listen. (You can listen to this on the Casablanca Valley, this on Maipo, and this on Rapel if you really want extra credit!)

2. A summary of the brands to keep it all straight:

Veramonte: Cool climate Casablanca and Colchagua wines for everyday consumption. Pop and pour! Ritual: Also from Casablanca, and only Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot. These are more food wines, with stronger tannin, and fuller body. They are a bit more terroir driven. Primus: The same idea as Ritual but these wines are bolder reds. There is a red blend and a Carménère from Apalta in Colchagua, and a Cabernet Sauvignon from Maipo. Neyen: The signature, high-end blend, sourced from their top site in Apalta.

 

Here are the points we cover:

Sofia tells us about her life and career. She talks about working for Casa Lapostolle and Luis Felipe Edwards in the Colchagua Valley, and Arestí in Curicó.

 

We get the history of Viñedos Veramonte and how Sofía was a major part of its transition to organics. We discuss some of the exciting things about the transition and some of the more difficult ones (including a change in mindset.

**Sofía mentions Flowers and Quintessa as being brands owned by Augustin Hunneus. Flowers is a Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir brand, Quintessa is a Napa-based mainly Cabernet-based brand. Both are biodynamic and both are very pricey).

 

We discuss the Casablanca Valley at length ? its surprisingly cool climate, how it developed through the 1990s and 2000, and the very pure fruit flavors that she is able to achieve in the wines made here: Ritual and Veramonte. We discuss the reds of the region, the different flavor profiles they can achieve in this area, and why they are successful in Casablanca.

Sofía discusses Colchagua and why the Carmenére is so good from this area. We discuss the sub areas of Apalta and Marchigue (pronounced mar-Chee-way) from which Primus and Neyen are sourced. We discuss what makes Neyen, their flagship wine, so special.

 

Since Primus Cabernet Sauvignon is sourced from the Maipo Valley, we also discuss this beautiful, famed area. We mention the Maipo Alto, Maipo Medio, and Maipo Bajo as being diverse

 

Sofía schools us on why Chilean wine is an incredible value for the money and why price doesn?t always mean quality, especially where Chile is concerned.

 

____________________________________________________________

Thanks for our sponsors this week:

Wine Access: Access to the best wines for the best prices! For 15% off your next order, go to www.wineaccess.com/normal

 

To become a member of Patreon go to www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

 

 

To register for an AWESOME, LIVE WFNP class with Elizabeth go to: www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes

2021-08-17
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Ep 386: Natalie MacLean -- Author, Wine Reviewer & Podcaster

Natalie MacLean is an accredited sommelier who operates one of the largest wine sites on the web at www.nataliemaclean.com.

Natalie's first book Red, White and Drunk All Over: A Wine-Soaked Journey from Grape to Glass and her second book Unquenchable: A Tipsy Quest for the World's Best Bargain Wines were each selected as an Amazon ?Best Book of the Year.? She is the wine expert on CTV's The Social, Canada's largest daytime television show, CTV News, and Global Television's Morning Show.

She was named the World's Best Drinks Writer at the World Food Media Awards, and has won four James Beard Foundation Journalism Awards. Natalie is an author, online wine course instructor, and wine reviewer. She is a member of the National Capital Sommelier Guild, the Wine Writers Circle, and several French wine societies with complicated and impressive names.

Natalie holds an MBA and is a fellow podcast host, with her excellent podcast ?Unreserved Wine Talk? (on which I have also been a guest - Ep 50).

Being two podcasters, we like to talk!! This is more of a conversation than an interview and we had a great time chatting about a variety of subjects. Here are the show notes:

Natalie talks about her journey into the wine world from a live in tech and an MBA to becoming a wine reviewer and writer. She and I discuss the professional challenges that she faced in 2012 and how she didn?t give up and used her positivity and strength to continue being a powerful voice in wine.

We chat about the Canadian wine industry

Then we get to the main event ? bantering about the current trends in the wine industry and what we think about them. Here are the main topics we take on:

The natural wine movement/clean wine/raw wine Celebrity wine Alcohol free or low alcohol wine Wine critics and ?influencers? Climate change and what it will do to wine Wine v. white claw or spirits, which follows nicely into a conversation about canned and boxed wines and alternative packaging, including the environmental impact of shipping in the wine industry and our hopes for change Orange wines, blue wines

A very fun conversation about wine and life. Please check out Natalie?s books:  Red, White and Drunk All Over: A Wine-Soaked Journey from Grape to Glass and her second book Unquenchable: A Tipsy Quest for the World's Best Bargain Wines 

      

 

_____________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

And to sign up for classes, please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes! 

Get your copy Wine For Normal People Book today! 

 

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal for a special deal on your order!

I?m so excited to work with Wine Access and you should definitely try them out. Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range).

Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps. They have REAL brands, REAL people picking the wines, and the deals and service are outstanding. Try their wine club out -- it's one of the best ways to get quality wines you may never have tried! 

Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

2021-08-09
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Ep 385: Anne Le Naour of Chateau Meyney - Redefining Saint-Estèphe of Bordeaux

Anne Le Naour is the technical and managing director for Château Meyney of St-Estèphe in the Médoc of Bordeaux. She also manages the other properties of CA Grands Crus. The company is owned by the top bank that supports wine in France, Crédit Agricole Group (sometimes referred to as "la banque verte" due to its historical connections with farming). Its current portfolio includes Chateaux Meyney, 5th growth Grand Puy Ducasse in Pauillac, and Santenay in Burgundy.

 

Le Naour is a trained oenologist with global experience and since she began at Meyney in 2016, she has transformed the Château, restructuring vineyards, improving viticulture, and moving towards organics. She has introduced better winemaking ? less extraction, less obvious oak, and more care in handling vine and wine. Her deep knowledge of wine and winemaking, plus her unwavering dedication to quality has meant that the wines of Meyney are attracting more attention than ever.

 

These are exquisite wines, underpriced for what they are (Meyney is right next to second growth, Montrose, incidentally, even though it was unfairly omitted from the 1855 classification) and Anne joins to tell us about her outstanding career, the underappreciated area of St-Estèphe on the Left Bank, and the beautiful wines of the historic Château Meyney. Here's my quick tasting video for a review.

 

Here are the notes from our conversation:

We open with a discussion of Meyney and its heritage first an ecclesiastical property, then as a woman-owned property (that was, at that time, conspicuously left out of the 1855 classification), to the more recent family ownership and then to Credit Agricolé, the current owner.


Photo: Château Meyney

Anne gives an overview of her outstanding career, where she worked at chateaux and domaine in Champagne (Mumm), Burgundy, Loire, Bordeaux (at Château Beychevelle) --some of the biggest names in French wine. She discusses her time in the Yarra Valley of Australia (Yering Station), and the US working with David Abreu. We discuss how her curiosity and a bit of innocence about how hard it would be to break into the industry helped her excel, and how going to Australia gave her an education of a lifetime.

We discuss what it means to be of Generation X and in a management role in wine, and how our generation differs from others.

 

We move on to St-Estèphe, and why it is not as esteemed as it should be?

Anne posits that St. Estèphe?s distance from Bordeaux city ? it takes 1.5 hours to travel St-Estèphe vs. 40 mintues to Margaux, may make it less desirable.

We discuss the terroir ? the traditional ability for wines to get riper in Margaux and St-Julien (those wines were known for elegance) vs St-Estèphe (called rustic). With better decisions in the vineyard and with winemaking the wines of St-Estèphe are often full and elegant ? the best of all world due to the presence of gravel on the top soils to help ripening and clay beneath to keep soils wet during periods of drought.

Map: Bordeaux.com, Vins de Bordeaux

The we discuss the specifics of what Anne has done to improve the vineyards and wines of Meyney. This is a great education session on what actually matters in the vineyard and why. We discuss some specific improvements that have been made at Meyney to boost wine quality:

Switching Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon sites to improve quality of the wine dramatically Using better grape material ? quality over quantity is now the priority Improving canopy management and increasing vine density Watching extractions and over-use of oak Creating a unique style for the second wine, Prieur de Meyney Organic and sustainable practices to improve soil health


Photo: Wine.com

We wrap up with a discussion of how we need to keep terroir in mind, but be flexible about our ideas of the appellations.

Here is a link to the video with the soil and plantings map, that is so very well done: Meyney Video

This was an excellent conversation from one of the best people working in wine today! I learned more than I can express, and I think you will too. Take a listen!

_____________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

And to sign up for classes, please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes! 

Get your copy Wine For Normal People Book today! 

 

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal for a special deal on your order!

I?m so excited to work with Wine Access and you should definitely try them out. Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range).

Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps. They have REAL brands, REAL people picking the wines, and the deals and service are outstanding. Try their wine club out -- it's one of the best ways to get quality wines you may never have tried! 

Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

2021-08-03
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Ep 384: Txakolina --The Wine of Basque Country

The Basque Country in northeastern Spain lies on the Bay of Biscay and abuts the Pyrenees Mountains, a mere 18 mi/30 km from the French border. Until about a decade ago, this area was relatively unknown as a wine region. But with the rise of Basque cuisine, an increased interest from wine buyers in native varietals, and a desire for lower alcohol, thirst-quenching wines, Txakolina (chock-o-LEEN-ah), a white, high acid, spritzy wine started to get attention. The phenom started in places all over the United States (which boasts a Basque population of more than 50,000 people), then the UK and Japan, now small quantities of wine find their way to  many other countries around the world.


Map of Basque Country: Vineyards.com

In this show, we discuss this historic region, with its own language, culture, and wine traditions. We talk about how the modern wine industry was renewed, and what you can expect from these delicious, refreshing (mainly white) wines. If you haven?t had these wines or heard of them, this should will give you a good foundation to learn about them and appreciate all that it took for them to make it to your table!

 

Here the show notes:

We give an overview of the Basque region (Euskadi), and the language of Euskera, one of the oldest spoken languages with no link to any other known language We discuss the quirky naming convention of the wine of this area, the original name of called txakolin and the meaning of txakolina  "the txakolin" ? a term was used from middle of the 18th century onwards and how Txakoli was a misspelling used after 1985. (Source: Wikipedia, originally from the Academy of Basque Language) The wine is called chacolí in Spanish

We spend time on the history of Basque country, with a focus on the independent spirit of the Basque people. We discuss the political discord in the region, especially the difficulties with the Basque Separatist Movement. We tie in wine?discussing the importance of the rise of Michelin-starred chefs in the Basque region, the interest of importers like Jorge Ordoñez who imported cases of Txomin Etxaniz to the US in the early 1990s, and how sommeliers and others had growing interest in native grapes

Photo: Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao in Basque Country

Location: We review where Basque Country is? Northern Basque Country: The French part in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques department of France Southern Basque Country/El País Vasco of Spain, Basque Autonomous Community: including Álava, Biscay, and Gipuzkoa Other areas that make Chacolí (I?m spelling it this way because they are Spanish areas) are Cantabria and Burgos

 

Land and climate: We mention features like the Cantabrian Mountains, vineyards near the coast surrounding Bilbao, and vineyards toward the Ebro Valley and Rioja. Vineyards are terraced and on hillsides, some quite steep. We talk about the wet Atlantic climate of the reigon and its effect on the grapes.

Photo: Bodega Doniene Gorrondona

Grapes: The main grapes are Hondarrabi Zuri (Courbu blanc and here is the link to the blog we mention), Hondarrabi Zuri Zerratia, Hondarrabi Beltza (a red grape for reds and rosés), Also allowed: Bordeleza Zuria/ Mune Mahatsa (Folle Blanche), Izkiriota Ttipia (Petit Manseng), Izkiriota (Gros Manseng), Petit Corbu, Txori mahatsa (Sauvignon Blanc), Chardonnay, Riesling


Here?s the article I mention in the show about rosé being a creation for the American market? 

 

Vineyard and winemaking. We discuss the parras ? the high pergolas that help keep the airflow through the canopy. We talk about the mainly modern winemaking facilities and methods, but how some of the producers are working with longer lees aging, aging in wood and concrete, and blending. We explore the technique of making the wine under a blanket of nitrogen to ensure spritz in your glass and how it is pour from shoulder height to enhance the fizz in the glass.

 

Txakolina Vineyard Photo: Josu Goñi Etxabe, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Finally, we discuss the Denominaciones de Origen:

Getariako Txakolina or Txakoli de Getaria, (Chacolí de Guetaria -Spanish), is the most important, oldest, and most prolific DO, yet the smallest geographically. The wines are softer and riper, with less bitterness and great acidity. They nearly always have spritz.

 

Bizkaiko Txakolina or Txakoli de Bizkaia  - (Spanish is Chacolí de Vizcaya), got its DO in 1994. It is mostly small tracts of land around Bilbao, overlooking the Bay of Biscay. These wines are more herbaceous than other regions and can be less fizzy, fuller, rounder and more textured.

 

Arabako Txakolina or Txakoli de Álava, achieved DO status in 2001, making it the youngest DO. This area is inland, south of Bilbao. In the south of this province, you'll find Rioja Alavesa. The north makes acidic, dry, fruity, low alcohol wines. These wines are often blended -- Hondarrabi Zuri, Gross Manseng, Petit Manseng and Petit Corbu are commonly mixed together.

 

Producers we mention:

Getariako:

Txomin Etxaniz: Largest winery in the Getaria region, makes 18% of the region?s output Ameztoi Gaintza

 

Bizkaiko

Doniene Gorrondona Bodegas Itsasmendi

Photo: Bodegas Itsasmendi

Arabako

Bat Gara

*Outro Snippet from the Song "Mr. Dobalina" is by Del the Funky Homo Sapien, (c)1991 from the "I Wish My Brother George Was Here", Elektra Records. 

_____________________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

And to sign up for classes, please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes! 

Get your copy Wine For Normal People Book today! 

 

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal for a special deal on your order!

I?m so excited to work with Wine Access and you should definitely try them out. Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range).

Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps. They have REAL brands, REAL people picking the wines, and the deals and service are outstanding. Try their wine club out -- it's one of the best ways to get quality wines you may never have tried! 

Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

2021-07-28
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Ep 383: Domaine Wachau of Austria - One of Europe's Best Co-Ops with Roman Horvath, MW

In this show I speak with Roman Horvath, a Master of Wine, is the Winery Director of Domaine Wachau, which is among the leading wine producers in Austria. The Domaine  is actually a cooperative, meaning it is run by and owned by individual growers, with Roman bringing them all together under his leadership. But whereas most co-ops in Europe produce seas of mediocre to plain BAD wines, Domaine Wachau has been cited as one of the best co-ops in the world and is known for making wines of origin and pure flavor.

Photo: Domaine Wachau

The Domaine has a full range of Grüner Veltliner and Riesling that reflect their unique terroir ? from small vineyard plots on steep terraces along the Danube to regional wines. Roman coordinates the vintner families, who work to capture the terroir of the historic wine region of Wachau. These wines are splendid and show how the co-op system can work well when under the right management.

 

Here are the show notes:

Roman tells us about his path through the MW and to becoming the managing director of Domaine Wachau. He gives us some great insight into the MW program (spoiler ? it?s probably not what you think!)

Photo of Roman Horvath, MW: Domaine Wachau

We discuss the structure of Domaine Wachau and what makes it such a successful cooperative (along with Produttori del Barbaresco in Piedmont and La Chablisienne in Chablis). We talk about the success of this co-op versus the thousands of others in Europe and the formula for great wine.

 

We discuss Wachau, the small (3321 acres/1,344 hectares), narrow valley carved out by the Danube through marble and mineral rich, amphibolite (metamorphic rock), and quartz-based gneiss (said "nice) rock. We talk about the effect of the Danube, climate patterns, and the individual 155 Rieden (single vineyards like the famed Kellerberg, Achleiten and Singerriedel), as well as the vital importance of the stone terraces (terrasen) to mountainside viticulture in Wachau.

Photo: Domaine Wachau

Roman tells us about the style we can expect from the Grüner Veltliner and the Riesling that grow in Wachau, and factors that make a difference in style ? from terroir to aging. We talk about why screw cap is fantastic for young wine but why cork is a better bet for aging wines.

 

We discuss the two classification systems that Wachau is part of ? the national DAC system, which includes a Burgundy-like place-based classification system (Gebeitsweine for Regional Wine, Ortswein for Village wine, Riedenwein for single vineyard wines) and Wachau?s own classification by ripeness under the Vinea Wachau, which includes wines labeled Steinfeder, Federspiel, and Smargd (in order of lightest to heaviest)

Map: Wine for Normal People book

We wrap with a conversation about climate change and the future for Wachau. Roman mentions some excellent other Austrian regions: Burgenland for reds, and Kremstal, Kamptal, Wagram, Traisental for whites.

This conversation gave me a new appreciation for Wachau and for successful co-ops. Domaine Wachau is great and I know I will appreciate Grüner Veltliner and Riesling from the majestic area more than I ever have before!

_____________________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

And to sign up for classes, please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes! 

Get your copy Wine For Normal People Book today! 

 

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

I?m so excited to introduce Wine Access to you. Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range).

They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops. Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps. Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed! 

Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

 

2021-07-19
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Ep 382: Don Kavanagh on Wine's Next Wave and The End of the Cult of the Somm

Don Kavanagh who joined for "Episode 330: Journalistic Integrity in Wine with Don Kavanagh of Wine-Searcher"  comes back to talk about wine's next wave and Wine-Searcher's controversial article: "Farewell to the 'Cult of the Somm.'"

Don Kavanagh, Editor of Wine-Searcher

To refresh your memory from Ep 330, Don is the editor of Wine-Searcher's journalistic arm. He has spent the past 25 years either working in the wine trade or writing about it, in his native Ireland, the UK, and New Zealand. He has a dedication to telling things as they are -- as a true observer of situations rather than a judge, jury, or partisan -- and publishes articles on topics that need to be tackled in the wine industry but that others won't touch because of wine politics. 

 

In this show Don and I discuss how the wine world is starting to look in a post-pandemic world where a shift towards stay-at-home drinking and more casual dining will likely be lasting trends. We address the (sort of earth-shattering, in our little world) quote from the head of Penfolds, Peter Gago, which was the highlight of the article in Wine-Searcher:

"The pandemic has probably diminished the 'cult of the sommelier'. Recent events may have also subdued their profile/visibility in the US market. Perhaps we're moving towards a new paradigm: less aspirationally rock star - more humility?"


Photo: Peter Gago, Chief Winemaker, Penfolds.com

Although he said what most of us in the industry were thinking, his articulation of this sentiment (with a hint of hopefulness) really gives permission to others to stop putting sommeliers on a pedestal. With his proclamation, he effectively has made it ok for restaurants and producers to stop treating these people as influencer gods (as Don and I discuss, beyond their bubbles and their restaurants they don?t actually sell wine so this makes sense!). He has sounded the death knell for sommelier culture. 

 

James Lawrence, the author of the piece in Wine-Searcher, contacted other heavy hitters in the industry, including respected importer Thierry Thiese in the US, who concurred that the ego and adulation of sommeliers needed to go away. Others in the restaurant world stated that the role of the sommelier needed to change to something more operational and more guest-focused.

 

I highly recommend reading the article to see the blunt nature of the comments made and how they represent a true shift in the wine world away from truly, ?the cult of the somm? as Peter Gago christened it.


Photo credit: Pixabay

As for our conversation, Don and I discuss the role of critics and sommeliers, the future of the wine industry, non-alcoholic beverage trends, and what we both hope will be a better, more wine-drinker friendly world with the wine industry requiring a total reset of the sommelier role, attitude, and ego.

 

Some heavy topics but Don is devoid of pretense and so very clear-eyed and articulate about the industry, what is happening, and needs to happen. Don is infinitely entertaining and this podcast is bound to delight (unless you're a snobby sommelier and then you'll really hate us).

 Sign up for the Wine-Searcher newsletter to keep up with Don

 

_______________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

To sign up for classes, please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes! 

And get your copy Wine For Normal People Book today! 

 

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). Check out their awesome wine club, which is the REAL DEAL!  

2021-07-12
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Ep 381: Wines for a Barbecue

Barbecues are fun, but having wine at them?not so much! The food at barbecues ranges but the theme is that even though they generally occur in the dead of summer, the food is heavy and served warm so the wines we needed for pairing aren?t necessarily the same ones we?d have for sipping on the porch. In this show, we go over the main foods we eat at BBQs and break down some of their constituent components so we can find the best wines for them. 

Photo: Unsplash

It turns out that, as we talked through it all, there are some wines you just can?t do without at a barbecue ? we tell you the details of great pairing and hopefully convince you that with just a few key wines, you can have bottles that pair as well with food off the grill and the sides, as a cold, frosty beer.

 

Condiments we discuss:

Ketchup (and its ingredients) Mustard (and its ingredients) Mayo

Photo: Pexels

Sample foods we use to explain pairing and offer some ideas with explanations:

Hot dogs and popular toppings like sauerkraut, slaw, ketchup, and mustard Burgers with popular toppings Sausage Pork and various preparations Steak Chicken Veggies Seafood and fish Corn Watermelon Pasta salad Cole Slaw


Photos: Unsplash

Ribs and rubs: ketchup based sauces, sugar and fruit based sauces, smoky flavors, tandoori or hot spice notes, garlic and lemon marinades

 

MVPs (most valuable players ? meaning best wines):

Rosé: heavier styles from Tavel, Bandol (both in France) or those with higher alcohol levels, therefore a heavier body

Photos: Pixabay

Whites: Grüner Veltliner, fruity Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling (off dry and dry), Chenin Blanc (off dry and dry), Albariño, Verdejo, Fiano, Etna Bianco

 

Reds: Gamay, fruity Pinot Noir (California, New Zealand, Chile), Grenache/Syrah/ Mourvèdre blends (GSM) ? either Côtes-du-Rhône or from warmer places in Australia or the US, Shiraz from Australia or earthier Syrah in some cases, Zinfandel, Cabernet Franc, right bank Bordeaux

 

Sparkling ? have to have it, even if it?s cheap (Cava. Prosecco)

Don't forget to chill your whites, rosés, and especially your REDS!! Happy grilling!

_____________________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

And to sign up for classes, please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes! 

Get your copy Wine For Normal People Book today! 

 

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

I?m so excited to introduce Wine Access to you. Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range).

They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops. Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps. Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed! 

Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

2021-07-04
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Ep 380: Wine Moves North to Brittany & Beyond with Barnaby Eales

As the climate has changed, winegrowers have initiated the hunt for places where natural acidity and lightness can shine in the glass. Warmer years mean we can't always rely on our standbys -- Sancerre, Chablis, Chinon, and other wines from northern climes -- to have a balance of lighter alcohol and excellent acidity. People are seeking answers in many places -- some add artificial acidity or use technology for balance, some seek higher altitudes, and some higher latitudes. In this show we deal with the latter. 

 

Map: Mikael Bodlore-Penlaez, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
(notice the Pays Nantais, part of Loire Wine Region, in the lower right...)

 

Following a prologue from me about the wines of Scandinavia, which is, in fact, a thing, journalist Barnaby Eales of show 327 (EU Ingredient Labeling) joins again to discuss his latest article from Meininger's Wine Business International "Cool Breizh", about the new trend towards winegrowing in the northwestern area of Brittany, France.

 

Frankly, my introduction and our conversation are a bit surreal to think about, but this is the new reality and we need to be open to what is coming next as traditional regions warm and we seek to maintain food friendly, balanced wines in our fridges.

In my intro, I discuss wines mainly of Scania, Sweden and I mention the PDO of Dons, Denmark, the EU's northernmost protected wine region. I discuss the grapes that are popular in both places:

Reds: Rondo, Regent and Léon Millot (all three are hybrids) with Pinot Noir and others Whites: Solaris (a hybrid developed from Riesling) for acidity and sweetness with Pinot Gris and Auxerrois Blanc for sparkling wines

 

Barnaby and I discuss:

The background on his story, what is happening in Brittany, and why now

 

The terroir and which grapes are best suited to the area (hybrids for organics, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Chenin Blanc for vitis vinifera)


Some of the arcane laws that stopped Brittany from producing wine, even though it was capable of making great bottles 20 years ago. In addition, we discuss the very odd relationship Brittany has with the Loire (the Pays Nantais is really part of Brittany but was re-allocated under the Vichy fascist regime...it still stands today). 

 

The people who are trying to develop vineyards in Brittany -- they are from Provence, Bordeaux, and Champagne, among other places, and they are some big names. This is a serious place for wine in the future! 

 

I really encourage you to take a look at Barnaby's article. It's a great read and will really get you thinking about what's next.

 

If you want to read about Scandinavian wine, here are a few sources I used:

The Wine Gastronome The New York Times: Scandinavian Wine? A Warming Climate Tempts Entrepreneurs Wine Enthusiast: Sweden's Growing Wine Scene https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swedish_wine https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Danish_wine Visit Denmark 

_____________________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

And to sign up for classes, please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes! 

Get your copy Wine For Normal People Book today! 

 

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

I?m so excited to introduce Wine Access to you. Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range).

They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops. Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps. Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed! 

Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

2021-06-28
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Ep 379: The Main Alternatives to Oak --All About Concrete Eggs and Amphoras

Oak stabilizes color and smooths tannins, some think of it as a seasoning ingredient. But what about the other vessels that are increasingly popular for fermentation and aging? What do they do and are they really more than hype? We discuss the main alternatives to oak -- concrete and amphora, what each does and the benefits of each.

Photo: Concrete eggs made by Sonoma Cast Stone 

The show is a hybrid of discussion and interview, as I welcome Steve Rosenblatt of Sonoma Cast Stone, who manufactures custom concrete eggs and tanks, and Debbie Passin of VinEthos.com who sells custom, next generation amphora.

Photo: Vinethos

We start at the beginning and explain the purpose of all vessels for fermentation and aging.

 

For winemakers looking for good texture and small transfers of oxygen to smooth the tannins in reds and provide a good medium for sur lie aging in whites, but who don't want the oak flavor, they have a few choices.

They can use aged, neutral oak barrels. These neutral barrels provide the benefits people seek but they do absorb a lot of wine, are hard to clean, and don't always keep the fresh flavors of the wine. 

They can use stainless steel tanks or smaller stainless steel drums. These are great for wines that don't need any oxygen, as they keep flavors fresh and clean. They are temperature controlled, easy to clean and sanitize, and they allow the wine's flavor to shine. For those who want a more intense flavor, the smaller vessels will allow more contact with the lees (dead yeast cells that break up and give nutty, breads flavors to the wine). 

Photo: Quality Stainless Tanks 

But what if you want the benefits of oak without the flavor? That's where concrete eggs and amphoras come in. 

We first address concrete, which is at this time, a bit more popular than amphora. The main benefits we discuss:

The shape of the egg allows for continuous flow to the wine as it ferments and matures, creating a more homogenous wine. As fermentation creates heat, convection currents move the wine around, as it does in a tank or barrel. The currents are so strong, that the wine barely needs to be punched down or pumped over during fermentation. Battonage (stirring lees for increased flavor) also is barely needed. The lack of corners in the container mean there are no "dead areas" and the wine is more complex and uniform in quality and texture.

Tannins are softened during maturation: Similar to the benefits during fermentation, the egg shape constantly circulates the lees as the wine matures after malolactic fermentation so the tannins in reds are softer and finer with age in eggs.

 

Insulation: Concrete can be up to six inches thick so there is natural insulation from outside temperature swings that stainless steel tanks cannot provide without cooling or heating coils. This allows wine from concrete eggs to maintain freshness.

 

Oxygenation (with a caveat): Unlined concrete allows tiny amounts of oxygen to permeate and come into contact with the wine (from inside of the tank when it first is put in the tank). This softens tannins, creates complexity, texture, and a better mouthfeel especially during fermentation. The wine is fruity without any oak flavors.


Beauty and sustainability: The vessels are beautiful, can be customized, and they last forever if they are taken care of ? score for sustainability!

 

Ease of cleaning in a fermentation or aging vessel is really essential in wine. Sanitized vessels = clean wine. Concrete is easy to sanitize and clean.

Photo: Steve Rosenblatt, Sonoma Cast Stone


After we set up the history and benefits of concrete, I welcome the wonderful Steve Rosenblatt, founder and owner of Sonoma Cast Stone (and hobbyist winemaker!), the only manufacturer of concrete eggs in the United States, who gives us incredible detail on these benefits and more.


Next, we discuss amphoras. The benefits are largely the same (shape allows convection, clay is great for insulation, they are beautiful and sustainable, and easy to clean) but the real difference is porosity of amphoras, which mimics oak without flavor more than concrete?

True mico-oxygenation...Amphoras are made of clay and the newest generation have materials that can be fired at very high temperatures (in a kiln). These new amphoras don?t impart flavor, don?t crack or leak, and they have small pores, which allow for slow and steady micro-oxygenation similar to oak. The wine has complex texture, tannins relax over time, and lees are integrated into the wine. The difference: the grape and terroir are preserved with no oaky flavor.

Photo: Deborah Passin of VinEthos.com

Deborah Passin of VinEthos, who sells the top amphora producer, helps explain amphora and, importantly, dispel the myth that somehow amphora are only for natural wine or for funky, oxidized styles.  Amphoras are great vessels for all wine.

 

I learned so much in this show ? I hope you will too!

________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors:

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople 

 

 

Wine Access  

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range).

They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops. Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps.
2021-06-15
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Ep 378: Prosecco -- The wine, the region, and how to get the best bottles

Prosecco is not only Italy?s most popular sparkler, but recently it has surpassed Champagne to become the world?s best-selling sparkling wine. In this show we go over the details of the Prosecco region, the winemaking techniques, and I share the most important thing about the wine and how to get the best: the DOCGs that make way better wine than the cheap and cheerful stuff at the supermarket.

 

By the end of the show you?ll understand why Prosecco shouldn't be compared to Champagne (spoiler alert ? it?s not made the same and that?s on purpose!) and how to get better versions of what you may already be sipping!

Photo Valdobiaddene, Unsplash

 

Here are the show notes:

Location: The Prosecco DOC is in North East Italy between the Dolomite Mountains and the Adriatic Sea. It spans four provinces of the regions of Friuli Venezia Giulia (Gorizia, Pordenone, Trieste and Udine) and 5 provinces of the region of Veneto (Belluno, Padua, Treviso, Venice, Vicenza). Treviso and Trieste can add the special titles of Prosecco DOC Treviso and Prosecco DOC Trieste given their historic importance.  Given the vast area the DOC covers (23,000 ha/56,000 acres) and the diversity of soil ? from poor hilltops to fertile, loamy valleys and plains ? it is difficult to name a single style of Prosecco. Climates also range ?from cooler sites with mountain or marine breezes, to very warm flat areas that produce masses of grapes for industrial wine.

Source: Prosecco DOC

Grape: The Glera grape is the main grape in Prosecco (although it used to be called the Prosecco grape!). It is grape prone to high yields, which must be controlled to get high quality wine. When it is grown on good sites, it has moderately high acidity, a lighter body, and relatively low alcohol levels (the wines are usually not more than 12% alcohol by volume). Flavors range but typically Glera exhibits melon, peach, pear, and white flower notes. Prosecco can also have up to 15% Verdiso, Bianchetta Trevigiana, Perera, Glera lunga, Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco, Pinot Grigio, and Pinot Nero grapes in the blend.

Source: Prosecco DOC

 

Prosecco is NOT Champagne and it shouldn?t be compared to it (or any of the other wines made in that method). The key difference in the flavor of Prosecco, apart from the Glera grape, is in the winemaking techniques (again, different from Champagne!!). In this process, you harvest the grape and make wine through a primary fermentation. But whereas in the traditional method of sparkling wine, where secondary fermentation takes place in individual bottles, Prosecco?s secondary fermentation takes place in autoclaves, large steel tanks kept under pressure.

 

The process takes as little as a month (versus the required 9 months for most sparkling wine in made in the traditional method), and the wines do not rest sur lie for a long period of time, so the fruitiness of the Glera grape is maintained, rather than replaced with the yeasty, bready character from the yeast. Further, the pressure within the bottle is significantly less in Prosecco, making it a much less bubbly wine in most cases (although there are exceptions). The process has several names: the Martinotti Method, the Charmat Method, Cuve Close, Tank Method, or Conegliano-Valdobbiadene Method.

 

It?s important to recognize that for grapes like Glera (or Riesling in Germany where this method is also used) preserving aroma while getting a fresh effervescence is the goal ? they should not be handled like grapes used for the traditional method ? the goal of those wines is different. Hence, we should not be comparing Prosecco to Champagne or other sparkling wines ? it?s apples and oranges, really.

Source: Prosecco DOC

 

There are several types of Prosecco, they vary based on how sparkling they are:

Spumante (sparkling), which is the most common and the most bubbly and has a regular sparkling wine cork In 2020, Prosecco DOC Rosé was approved as a new sub-category of Spumante. It must contain at least 85% Glera with 10-15% Pinot Nero. The wine must use the Martinotti/Charmat Method but spend 60 days in autoclave v 30 days for Prosecco DOC. It is vintage dated.

 

Frizzante (semi-sparkling), which has light and less persistent bubbles than Spumante an is more floral than fruity and often bottled with a screw cap. Proseccco Col Fondo, is a frizzante, but more specifically a pétillant naturel(pét-nat). That means a single fermentation takes place in the bottle from which you drink the wine. It is cloudy and full of lees, or dead yeast cells, and often a bit bready from years on the lees.

Tranquillo (still), which is very uncommon and is bottled before the secondary fermentation

 

Similar to all sparkling wines, there is a sweetness scale for these wines, which you will see on the label:

Brut Nature (0-3 grams per liter of residual sugar) Extra Brut (0-6 g/l of residual sugar) Brut (up to 12 grams per liter of residual sugar) Extra Dry (12?17 g/l of residual sugar) Dry (17?32 g/l of residual sugar) Demi-sec (32-50 g/l of residual sugar)

 

 

The DOCG

The 20% of high quality Prosecco production happens around the smaller, hilly, historic DOCG towns of Conegliano, Valdobbiadene and Asolo. These areas have strong diurnals, poorer soils (meaning, better for the vines), and the wines are a few steps above general Prosecco. They are more complex, the fruit flavors are purer ? lemon, peach, pear notes are strong as well as floral notes, flintiness, chalk, and saline aromas and flavors. The wines tend to have lower levels of sugar and are more terroir driven. They are trying to distance themselves from cheaper big-brand Prosecco DOC, some even have elected to remove the world ?Prosecco? from their front labels.

 

Here are the Prosecco Superiore DOCG to seek out:

Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG is a cut above and it?s a fairly low risk way to see how better Prosecco tastes. Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore ?Rive? DOCG is from the steep hills and top vineyards of 43 designated sites ? these are outstanding terroir driven wines Valdobbiadene Superiore di Cartizze DOCG is the top wine of Prosecco. It consists of 107 ha/264 acres of vineyards on the steepest hillsides of San Pietro di Barbozza, Santo Stefano and Saccol, in Valdobbiadene. Asolo Prosecco DOCG is outstanding, with great salinity and minerality as well

 

________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors:

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople 

 

 

Wine Access  

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range).

They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops. Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps.
2021-06-07
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Ep 377: The Wines of Beaujolais and its Ten Divine Cru

Beaujolais is a unique, standalone wine region in central eastern France. Sandwiched between southern Burgundy (the Mâconnais) and Lyon (where it is their preferred wine), these wines and this terroir is like no other on earth. With high elevation from the western Massif Central, east and south-facing slopes, these wines get ripe over a long growing season with good diurnals. The unique pink granite and weathered granite sand, along with mineral rich soils of the northern section of Beaujolais, aren?t something you?ll easily find elsewhere in the wine world. In addition, nowhere else in the world specializes in the Gamay grape.

Source: www.beaujolais.com

This grape?s expression in the 10 Crus of Beaujolais ? whether it be like iris and violets, tart cherry, blackberry, mineral or intense spice ? is always surprising and refreshing due to the high acidity of the wines. The quality for price can?t be beat and as producers embrace traditional vinification rather than carbonic maceration (used in Beaujolais nouveau, which is declining) the wines continue to improve and show what Gamay and the Beaujolais region are capable of. We give you all the details you need to seek out these splendid, undervalued gems.

 

There are 12 Appellations in Beaujolais: 10 Cru and 2 regional appellations

 

Beaujolais/Beaujolais Superiéur are regional appellations. These wines are mainly (99%) red of Gamay. They are required to have a minimum of 10% alcohol (not very ripe!) and are generally made via semi-carbonic maceration. These wines can be red or rosé. The reds taste like red grapes, cranberry, cherry, banana, candied pear, and are light in color, light in tannin and high in acidity. 1% of Beaujolais AOC wines are simple whites of Chardonnay.

Added designations:

Superiéur: The wines have lower yields, and 0.5% more alcohol. You can only use this designation for reds. 30 specific village names can be added to the Beaujolais AOC or Beaujolais Superieur Nouveau/Primeur: released the third Thursday of November, made through carbonic maceration, these wines represent 2/3 of the Beaujolais AOC. All are hand harvested to keep the whole grapes for carbonic maceration

 

Beaujolais Villages are from 38 specific villages that are deemed
extremely high quality and can also be red or rosé although they are mainly red.  These reds are darker in color and less grapey than basic Beaujolais. They have red and black berry, mineral, and spice notes, with more tannin and strong acidity.  Some of these wines are made without carbonic maceration and are more serious wines with complexity, although Villages can be sold as Nouveau as well. 

 

Beaujolais Villages Blanc are 100% Chardonnay and are concentrated in flavor, similar to the wines of Mâconnais. 

 

Crus: The 10 best of Beaujolais

All wine is 100% Gamay. The pruning methods, vine density and yields are specified by commune. All grapes for the Crus are hand-harvested, most of it is hand-sorted. The best of these wines are transitioning from carbonic maceration to traditional red wine fermentation. The minimum required minimum alcohol is 10%. Although ?Cru de Beaujolais? must be somewhere on the label, it is generally in very small print, so you need to know the names of the Crus to find them!

 

The Crus also have special vineyard sites, or climats, which you will see on the bottle and should seek out. Because so few people are familiar with these wines, they are incredibly affordable, with great examples costing less than US$30!

 

From north to south, as we discuss in the show, the Crus are: Saint-Amour, Juliénas, Chénas, Moulin-á-Vent, Fleurie, Chiroubles, Morgon, Régníe, Côte de Brouilly, Brouilly

Source: www.discoverbeaujolais.com

In groups by style, here are the descriptions of each?

Light -Medium Bodied: Chiroubles

These wines are floral, with iris, violet, and peony notes. They also have red berry and baking spice aromas and flavors with a light body and the famed ?Glisser en bouche? ? glides down the throat ? quality. These wines ages 2 to 5 years.

 

Medium-Bodied

Saint -Amour is made in two styles.

Style 1: Light, fruity, grapey, peachy, and like violets/flowers. Acidic and should be consumed within a year or two of vintage. Style 2: Medium-bodied, slightly tannic, with sour cherry, ginger, baking spice and a savory, earthy quality that is like Pinot Noir with age. The best can age 10 years.

 

Fleurie is elegant and silky with iris, violet, rose, red fruit, and peach aromas and flavors. Fleurie wines can be soft or more substantial with dark fruit notes. They can age up to 5 years

Source: www.beaujolais.com

Brouilly is fruit-driven with plum, red berry, cherry notes and sometimes mineral notes. They are have softer tannins and can age 3 to 5 years.

 

 

Medium- to full-bodied:

Cote de Brouilly is sourced from the high-altitude areas within Brouilly. The wines are more robust in body with blackberry, plum, fresh grape, iris flower, and black pepper notes. They have strong acidity and mild tannin. They taste better after 4 to 6 years.

 

Juliénas is highly aromatic with sweet and tart red berry, violet/dark flower, cinnamon, peach notes, and a mineral earthiness. They have great acidity and can age 6 to 10 years.

 

Full-bodied:

Chenás is floral with peony and rose aromas. It has a special spicy, woodsy quality, regardless of whether it has been in a barrel. Chénas has some tannin and is ageworthy ? it can age 8 to 10 years.

 

Moulin-a-Vent is the King of Beaujolais; the pinnacle of the region. When it?s young, it?s like violets, cherries, and plums with a mineral, earth note. With age (the wines improve over 10 or more years), these wines become more like Pinot Noir - Indian spice, sandalwood, and earth.  They are balanced with good tannin and acidity.

Source: www.beaujolais.com

 

Morgon is the longest lived of the Cru, with aging potential of 5 to 20 years. These wines are full-bodied and powerful with black cherry, peach, plum, and violet. Their tannin, flavor, and acidity allow them to evolve and with time, get earthier (like truffles) and spicy (like licorice or mellow spice), and the texture is velvety. ?Morgonner?, or to ?Morgon? is a local word that describes how these wines evolve.

 

Régníe is full-bodied but not as ageworthy as the others in this category. The wines taste like tart cherry, raspberry, red currant, plum, blackcurrant, blackberry aromas. Acidic, mineral, spice, some tannin

 

Food for heavier styles:  Steak, mushroom-based dishes, eggplant-based dishes with herbs and pepper, strong cheeses, pizza with meat toppings, tuna, salmon, lentils, black bean burgers, and anything with garlic.

 

Food for medium to light styles:  Brie, anything with garlic, salmon, cod with garlic based sauces, turkey burgers with savory notes, dishes with scallion/onion as a main flavor, Thanksgiving fare, bacon dishes, pork with fruit glazes (fruitier wines).

 

If you have not tried these splendid Cru, go out and get the one that sounds the best to you immediately. These are wines to discover. Once you do, you?ll drink them forever!

 

________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors:

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople 

 

 

Wine Access  

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range).

They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops. Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps.

 

Sources:

https://cluboenologique.com/story/welcome-to-the-new-burgundy-chablis-out-beaujolais-in/ https://www.beaujolais.com/en/ https://www.discoverbeaujolais.com/
2021-06-01
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Ep 376: The 1976 Judgment of Paris -- the Tasting That Made California Wine Famous

First, thanks to listener and Patron Rafael C. for the podcast topic this week!

It is the 45th Anniversary of the Judgment of Paris: a tasting of California and French wines, organized but the late Steve Spurrier, that opened the door for wines from the US and all over the New World to be recognized for their excellence. We should raise a glass to him, his partner Patricia Gallagher, and to journalist and author George Taber, all of whom made this event so very significant. 

Here's a quick recap, all of which we cover in the podcast...

In 1976, an English wine shop owner, Steven Spurrier, and the director of his adjacent wine school, Patricia Gallagher, wanted to introduce members of the French culinary elite to the wines of California. The goal was to show them the new developments happening across the world in wine (and to get publicity for Cave de la Madeleine and the Academie du Vin -- genius marketing!).

 

Photo: Berry Bros & Rudd Wine Blog

In preparation, Spurrier and Gallagher researched, tasted, and carefully selected 6 boutique California Chardonnays and 6 boutique Cabernet Sauvignon-based wines. They brought these wines to France and on May 24, 1976 conducted a three-hour tasting that (unbeknownst to them) would change the wine world forever.

 

Nine French judges sat at the Intercontinental Hotel in Paris and sipped 6 California Chardonnays with a group of four high end white Burgundies (100% Chardonnay). They followed that up with 6 California Cabernet Sauvignons and four of the best Bordeaux from the Left Bank. The results were as follows:

 

Chardonnays

1973 Chateau Montelena, Napa Valley (family owned) 1973 Roulot Meursault Charmes, Premier Cru, Bourgogne 1974 Chalone Vineyards, Santa Cruz Mountains (owned by Diageo) 1973 Spring Mountain Vineyard, Napa Valley (owned by an investment company) 1973 Joseph Drouhin Beaune ?Clos des Mouches,? Premier Cru Bourgogne 1972 Freemark Abbey, Napa Valley (owned by Jackson Family Wines/Kendall-Jackson) 1973 Ramonet-Prudhon, Bâtard-Montrachet, Grand Cru, Bourgogne 1972 Domaine Leflaive, Puligny- Montrachet, ?Les Pucelles?, Premier Cru, Bourgogne 1972 Veedercrest Vineyards, Napa Valley (shut down for 20 years, resurrected in 2005 under a sole proprietor) 1972 David Bruce Winery, Santa Cruz Mountains (family owned)

Photo: National Museum of American History -- Smithsonian 

The Cabernets/Bordeaux

1973 Stag?s Leap Wine Cellars, Napa Valley (owned by Chateau Ste. Michelle/Antinori) 1970 Château Mouton-Rothschild, Pauillac, Bordeaux 1970 Château Haut-Brion, Graves, Bordeaux 1970 Château Montrose, St-Éstephe, Bordeaux 1971 Ridge Vineyards, Monte Bello, Santa Cruz Mountains (owned since 1987 by a Japanese pharmaceutical company) 1971 Château-Leoville-Las-Cases, St. Julien, Bordeaux 1971 Mayacamas Vineyards, Napa Valley (family owned) 1972 Clos du Val, Napa Valley (family owned) 1970 Heitz Cellars, Martha?s Vineyard, Napa Valley (investor owned) 1969 Freemark Abbey, Napa Valley (owned by Jackson Family Wines/Kendall-Jackson)

 

Shocking and unexpected though they were, the results helped land California a seat at the table in the world of serious wine and paved the way for other regions to show that they were also capable of making excellent wines.

Photo: Bella Spurrier

The contest was not without objection. According to George Taber?s book (FYI -this is an affiliate link and I may earn a small commission from your purchase) the major ones were:

The 20-point system was too limiting (but 20 points was standard at the time, I think any scale would have been criticized)

For each category there were only four French wines to six California wines, so the odds were statistically in California?s favor (this is a very valid argument but the purpose of the tasting was for fun and learning, so we can?t really fault Spurrier for not knowing!)

Spurrier didn?t choose the best French vintages (Spurrier picked French wines he thought would win, this was the best available)

The French wines were too young (the tasting has been replicated and the California wines have aged better than the French wines!)

Blind tastings suck ? (this is very true but there was no "gotcha" here. It was just done to remove judgment, not to make people guess what wine was what Chateau!)

 

My additional objections:

It is quite unfair to judge French wine without food. A small roll for palate cleansing isn?t enough. With a meal, the French wines would have been different. Food must be at the table for a fair judgement.

The order of the wines in a tasting matters. Of course a lighter style wine tried after a heavier one will seem washed out. I don?t know what the case was here, but the ?out of the hat? system was probably not the best order for the wines.

We do need to realize that 1976 was a very difficult time for France. It was still rebuilding after the trauma of two World Wars in very quick succession and it took years to garner investment and get the wineries functioning and modernized. This was likely in the period of transition and that means the wines, made by traditional methods may have tasted less ?clean? in comparison to the wines of California, which benefitted from cutting edge technology and scientific know-how, which was part of the culture of the reborn wine culture there.

 

That said, we all must raise a glass to Steve Spurrier, Patricia Gallagher, and George Taber for holding/covering this event, which improved and globalized wine for the modern times!

Book cover from Amazon.com

I highly recommend George Taber?s book "Judgment of Paris"  It?s a great read!

 

PS-- As we discussed in the show, check out my friend Tanisha
Townsend's podcast, "Wine School Dropout" and her site Girl Meets Glass!

________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors:

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople 

 

 

Wine Access  

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range).

They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops. Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps.

 

2021-05-25
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Ep 375: Phil Long of Longevity Wines -- Bringing Heart to CA's Livermore Valley

Winemaker/Founder Phil Long of Longevity Wines is a true
Garagiste ? he began his making wine in the garage with his late wife Debra in the mid-2000s. In 2008, the couple quit their full-time jobs and the couple opened their tasting room and winery in the Livermore Valley near their home.

Livermore Valley is a sub-AVA of the Central Coast with a really unique climate (I lived in Pleasanton, the next town over, so I speak from experience!) ? with cool nights and some San Francisco Bay influence bumping up against the heat from the east of the Central Valley. The wines were sourced using local fruit and Longevity grew from a few hundred, to a few thousand cases. 

Map from the Livermore Valley Winegrowers Association

Phil is revered for his balanced wines from Bordeaux and Rhone varietals. His wines include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Debruvee (the GSM Rhone Style blend), and Philosophy (Bordeaux style blend). In 2018, the Livermore Valley Winegrowers Association voted Longevity Winery of the Year. With their artfully designed labels (done by Phil as a tribute to Debra), Longevity's wines are also a darling of Hollywood, with bottles being featured on tv shows and in movies.

Phil is the President of the Association of African American Vintners (AAAV) and has been a key player in the discussion around the lack of diversity in the wine industry. We discuss his role as the spokesperson for the organization and the importance of making changes to improve the wine industry as a whole. 

Phil is a down-to-earth, smart, and talented guy. Despite how big Longevity may be in the future with the Bronco partnership, I don't think that will ever change! 

__________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors:

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

 

 

Wine Access     

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range).

They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops. Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps.
2021-05-18
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Ep 374: Bordeaux Classification Systems Explained

After a few conversations, it became clear that M.C. Ice has been very confused about the differences between classification systems in France. Isn't Bordeaux the same as Burgundy? What?s the terminology -- it's it Premier Cru? Grand Cru? What exactly is each place ranking? And why do they do it at all?

In this show we get in the weeds on the five classifications of Bordeaux (read the Wine For Normal People book or listen to Ep 59 and 60 to get up to speed on Bordeaux before attempting this!). We talk about their history, what they aimed to achieve and the criteria each use. We try to clear up what each is ranking, how they are ranked and why it all matters. MC Ice was clear by the end, we hope you are too!

 

Here are the classifications of Bordeaux mentioned in the show:

1855 Classification (with Sauternes and Barsac):

The terminology for each level is ?Cru?, there are five levels:

First-Growths / Premières Crus Second-Growths / Deuxièmes Crus Third-Growths / Troisièmes Crus Fourth-Growths / Quatrièmes Crus Fifth-Growths / Cinquièmes Crus Sauternes and Barsac have first and second growths, and Château d?Yquem is a Great First-Growth / Grand Premier Cru

 

And the 1961 Proposed classification

 

Graves Classification

Grand Cru Classé de Graves

 

St Émilion Classification

Premier Grand Cru Classé 'A'   Premier Grand Cru Classé 'B' Grand Cru Classé St Émilion Grand Cru

 

 

Cru Bourgeois

Crus Bourgeois Crus Bourgeois Supérieurs Crus Bourgeois Exceptionnels

 

Cru Artisan Classification (only Médoc)

 

__________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors:

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

 

Wine Access     

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range).

They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops. Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps. Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed!

Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

2021-05-11
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Ep 373: Tips for Wine Travel with Travel Writer and Media Producer, Krista Simmons

Krista Simmons is a culinary travel writer and producer who runs the digital media company, Fork in the Road Media. She has been on TV shows like Top Chef Masters, Knife Fight, Hell's Kitchen, The Today Show, and more. She has written for Travel + Leisure, Departures, and the Los Angeles Times.

Krista is the real deal: she has held jobs in the restaurant industry since she was 15. And following that she traveled, went to culinary school, and she's studying for WSET Level 2 Exam. She has lived more in her young life than most of us could hope to in our whole lives!

 

In the show Krista joins to share her wisdom and advice on wine travel, and specifically on travel in the Santa Ynez Valley of Santa Barbara, California, which she recently covered for a ridiculously popular piece in Condé Nast Travel: How to Spend a Weekend in California's Santa Ynez Valley

We share several tips, and go through the "personalities" of the major areas of the Santa Ynez Valley of Santa Barbara County (Solvang, Los Olivos, Los Alamos, Santa Ynez, Buellton). Here are some highlights with links we mention:

Tip 1: Stay close to where you want to go to dinner! That way you can walk home after having some adult beverages. Some hotels we mention:

The Winston Solvang   The Santa Ynez Inn Fess Parker Inn (very pricey)

The Winston, Solvang

 

Tip 2: Find great restaurants by following people like Krista and the publications she writes for (like Condé Nast Traveler). Food bloggers are another great source of info for top restaurants you may want to hit while visiting wine country. Also, ask your local chefs if they have ever traveled to the area you are going and if they know any great restaurants.

When on the ground, tasting room staff are a great resource for the best local fare! 

Here are some restaurants we mention:

Breakfast at Bob?s Well Bread in Los Alamos and Ballard  El Rancho Market (Santa Ynez) Industrial Eats (Buellton) Coast Range (Solvang)  Bell's (Los Alamos) Pico (Los Alamos): My favorite, because I love Lumen and Will Henry (Episode 259!) who owns it and the restaurant (it is also delicious!)

Pico Restaurant, Los Alamos 

Tip 3: Pack well! We spend lots of time talking about packing for comfort (NO HIGH HEELS!). Krista mentions some specific shoe brands:

https://www.blundstone.com/ https://www.redwingshoes.com/ https://www.bornshoes.com/ https://www.danner.com/

She also recommends bringing a jacket for the cool nights and a hat for the hot daytime!

 

Tip 4: If you're traveling on a budget, plan trips for the ?shoulder season? ? the least busy time of the year. In wine country that's December to February. Travel during the week if you can, it will save you a bundle.

 

We share so many more tips, including the biggest pitfalls you can fall into in travel. This is a great show for all wine country travel and it is a must if you are going to Santa Barbara County wine country! 

 

Make sure to follow Krista and listen to her podcast, Fork in the Road (especially the episode with Wine for Normal People ?)

__________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors:

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

 

 

Wine Access     

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range).

They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops. Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps. Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed!

Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

2021-05-04
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Ep 372: The Grape Miniseries -- Gruner Veltliner

Grüner Veltliner (GROOH-ner felt-LEEN-ah) is the main white grape of Austria. In this show we discuss its surprisingly recent rise to fame, its unusual origin, and its important place in wine.

 

Here are the show notes:

History and Parents of Grüner

We discuss this beautiful white grape whose name means  'green grape from the village of Veltlin in the Tyrol (Italy)," despite that fact that the grape likely comes from Niederösterreich, Austria M.C. Ice becomes baffled by Savagnin v Sauvignon. We settle on calling Savagnin it's other name, Traminer. The story of Grüner's other parent, St. Georgener is a marvel.In short, it was discovered as a 100+ year old lone vine growing on a cattle farm in 2000 after a local vintner followed a hunch that it was there. After six years of study, it became clear it was the parent of Grüner. In 2011, vandals chopped this old, lone vine into smithereens -- the ancient trunk and all shoots were hacked to pieces, devastating the Austrian wine industry. The thieves were never caught (although M.C. Ice swears he's on the job) but grapes are hard to keep down -- new shoots from this old vine grew from the ground and now the new growth is a national monument.

 

We discuss how Grüner Veltliner was not much of a revered grape in Austria until the proper trellising system came along and changed the game. In the 1950s, producer Lenz Moser created a new vine training system that changed the way the grape is grown."High culture" or Hochkultur calls for growing the vine trunk to (1.3 m/ 4.3 ft) and reducing vine density by wide row spacing.  These changes revolutionized Grüner. By 2002 it gained great critical acclaim and it grew in popularity from there.

Here is a link to the Wall Street Journal article written by Leattie Teague, who I referred to as the  "bizarro" me (as Seinfeld reference -- it means it is you, only the exact opposite!). In this case, I don't think Grüner has ever been "out of fashion" but I also don't believe in wines being fashionable, so there's that. 

 

Grüner in the Vineyard

To get the best wines from this grape, restricting yields is essential This mid-ripening grape has very green, yellow toned berries and does well on Loess soils, does not like dry soils

 

The rest of the show is a quick tour of the regions... 

Austria 

Weinviertel DAC : Austria?s largest wine-growing region, this northeast area is home to more than half of all Austrian Grüner Veltliner. The wines from the west are lighter and more minerally. Those in the northeast are spicy. In the southeast the wines are soft, round, and can be at higher levels of ripeness (on the Prädikat scale  -- Auslese, Beerenauslause -- fully ripe to botrytized unctuous wines).  Weinviertel Grüner is known for  ?Pfefferl? - white, black, and green pepper notes with fruit and acidity.

 

Traisental DAC: Along the Traisen -- a tributary of the Danube -- this is a small area with very long lived Reserve wines and fruity, spicy, acidic, minerally Grüner Veltliner. The single vineyard wines are prized, albeit hard to find outside of Austria.

 

Leithaberg DAC : Creates varietally labeled or blended Grüner  (often with Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay, Neuberger)

 

Wagram DAC: Known for easy drinking spicy wines but the region does make rich reserve wines as well.

 

Austrian Grüner's "Big Three" along the Danube: Kamptal, Kremstal, Wachau

Kamptal DAC: Named for the river Kamp that runs through it, Kamptal is known for mid-weight to very robust, dry wines with tropical, mineral, and peppery notes. In cooler years the wines are lighter and refreshing, in warmer ones it is full bodied and silky with fruit and pepper flavors and aromas.

 

Kremstal DAC: Named for the Krems river, Kremstal has three zones that produce different styles. The best generally come from the loess (wind-blown silt soils) terraces along the Danube, which create round, full-bodied, fruity wines with ample acidity for balance. Kremstal is slightly warmer than Kamptal, so especially in cooler vintages, Kremstal will show noticeably silkier textures, more body, and more fruit than the wines of Kamptal

 

Wachau DAC (as of spring 2020): The most famed area for Grüner Velliner in the world, this narrow valley runs from the city of Melk to Krems. Vineyards are on steep, terraced hills, which face south and must be harvested by hand. The climate here represents the meeting of the cooler Atlantic air from the west and the warmer Pannonian air from the east -- the blend is ideal for growing Grüner. Wachau makes some of the best Grüner in the world. When it is made from ideal sites and aged, many compare it to the finest Burgundies, for a fraction of the price. Wachau has its own ripeness classification: Steinfeder is for lighter wines with up to 11.5% alcohol Federspiel is the classic Wachau wines with good ripeness and flavor, and alcohols ranging from 11.5%-12.5% ABV Smargd is for full ripe grapes with ABV of more than 12.5% (smargd is a green lizard that runs around the vineyards of Wachau) (more information on all these spots at the Austrian Wine Marketing Board, from which much of the above info is sourced)

 

Other spots in Europe that grow Grüner:  Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Trentino Alto-Adige (Italy),  Wurttemberg (Germany), France

 

Grüner in the New World

In the US:

The Finger Lakes and Long Island in New York Various other east coast states including Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Virginia California ? various places, including ACORN Winery in Sonoma, which will soon have a white field blend featuring Grüner Oregon: Both in  Willamette Valley and Umpqua Valley Washington State

Other spots around the New world...

Canada:  British Columbia is experimenting with Grüner Australia: South Australia, specifically Adelaide Hills as well as Canberra New Zealand: Gisbourne on the North Island, Marlborough and Central Otago on the South Island (I didn't mention this in the podcast but there is a good amount of loess soil in New Zealand, which is ideal for Grüner. This is especially true in Central Otago, where the climate is similar to that of Wachau).

 

A final note on Grüner Veltliner styles...

There is a tremendous amount of variety -- some wines are fresh and young wine, some are sparkling, some are very age worthy. Boiling it down to basics, we could put flavors into two buckets:

Light, fresh, minerally with arugula, pepper, lemon, grapefruit and other citrus character. Some have spritz (small bubbles) to show off the minerality and fruit. The acidity may seem more pronounced in these styles because the fruit is not as ripe and lush Heavy, complex, with white pepper spice, tropical fruit or ripe apple notes, can be silky but with balancing acidity. These are the versions you find from warmer sites like Wachau, Kremstal and Kamptal regions. Look for "Reserve" on the bottle if you plan to age these wines. And wait a few years before you have them -- many aren't ready for five or more years.

Other style notes:

Grüner is generally made without oak aging in small or new barriques, as it hides the beautiful natural flavors of the grape. The sweet wines of Grüner are full and ripe -- like peaches, pineapple, and nutmeg but their richness is balanced by strong acidic.

 

Grüner Veltliner Food Pairing Ideas

Charcuterie, schnitzel, smoked fish Salads, asparagus, other green veggies Vietnamese or Thai food. Lemongrass or spicy curries, and spring rolls are great pairings

 

If you haven't had Grüner get some today (I promise it's not a has-been. And if it is, let's snatch up what all the trendy people don't want -- their loss!).

 

__________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors:

 

Wine Access     

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range).

They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops. Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps. Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed!

Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

 

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

2021-04-26
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Ep 371: The Wines of Croatia

Croatia is a small country with unlimited wine potential. With a 2,500-year history of winemaking, this beautiful nation has coast, islands, and inland hills, all with unique soil types that make its growing conditions unlike anywhere else in the world. The four main regions make distinctive wines using indigenous grapes and although the industry is just getting back on its feet after a century of war, socialism, and poor viticulture, Croatia is a country on the ascent, and one you should know about! 

Dubrovnik in Dalmatia

These show notes really have to be a list of places and grapes, to help you figure out what the heck we were saying on the show. So here it is, as promised:

 

Source: Croatian Chamber of Economy and Croatian Premium Wine Imports

Continental/Inland areas

Croatian Uplands: The cool, hilly areas around the nation?s capital of Zagreb

Whites: Muscat, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Chardonnay, Furmint (Hungary?s grape used for Tokaji, known as Pu?ipel or Moslavac), ?krlet (like Grüner Veltliner) Sparkling wine production using traditional method with long lees aging Reds: Pinot Noir, Purtugizec (Blauer Porturgieser)

 

Slavonia: A flatter area that goes east from Zagreb to where the Danube hits Serbia. It has Gently rolling hills but the area is famed from the Slavonian oak for (especially Italian) barrels.

Whites: Gra?evina (grah-shay-VEEN-ah) - Croatia?s most planted white variety, Traminac (Gewürztraminer) in warmer sites Reds: Frankovka (Blaufränkisch) for still and sparkling wines

 

 

The Dalmatian Coast and Istria

Dalmatia and Croatia?s Islands: The southernmost region of Croatia, the area has a mild Mediterranean climate ? with dry, hot summers, mild winters with rain. This is the big tourist area, it lies on the coast and includes Split and the city of Dubrovnik (the city of King?s Landing in the HBO Show ?Game of Thrones.? Yes, I did read all 6 books).

 

There is island viticulture here and we mention some specific places: Bra?, Vis, Kor?ula, Hvar (where the world?s oldest continuously cultivated vineyard can be found at Stari Grad Plain). Also home to the great wines of the Peljesac (pell-yer-shatz) Peninsula

Whites: Po?ip (po-SHIP) Vuguva (VOO-gah-vah) Mara?tina (mar-ahsh-TEEN-a) Debit Grk Reds: Crljenak Kastelnski (serl-YEN-ick casht-el-EN-ski)/Tribidag (regional name for same grape) Babi? (bab-ICH) Plavac Mali (plaa-VAHTZ mah-lee) -- From Postup and Dinga? (where Miljenko (Mike) Grgi? was born)

 

 

Istria is the dynamic, outward looking, northern-most wine region. Throughout history it belonged to Austria, Italy, and Yugoslavia and that means it has a influences in food and wine from these nations. Istria has a Mediterranean climate, like Dalmatia but it is slightly cooler. It has rocky soils, rolling hills, and iron rich red soils (terra rossa like the Coonawarra of South Australia).

Whites: 2/3 production is the Malvazija Istarska grape (Malvasia Istriana in Italy) ?lahtina (zh-LACHK-teen-ah): grown only on the island of Krk (KIRK), with citrus and pear notes, soft round textures and low acidity Reds: Native red variety Teran ? acidic, aromatic medium to full bodied reds, best on clay-based terra rossa soils. Also great for Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and the native varieties. Also Refo?k. Good wine tourism here

 

 

Grape Descriptions

 

Whites

Gra?evina: Welschriesling, La?ki Rizling, Riesling Italico, Olasz Riesling): Croatia?s most planted white and grape variety overall

Best in continental climate on the plains of Slavonia Styles range young, fresh, saline, and grassy when aged in neutral vessels Oak-aged with floral, peachy, apricot notes and a fuller body. Can age well, can be dry or off-dry, sparkling, botrytized, ice wine. Part of Gemi?t, a mix of Gra?evina with sparkling water

 

Malvazija Istarska: Malvasia grown in Croatia with no relation to the Malvasia from Greece or Italy. Croatia?s second most-planted variety, can reflect terroir well

Istria?s big grape ?representing more than 50% of all their whites Styles: Fermented and aged in stainless steel ? floral, honey, apple, pear notes, with lower acidity, salinity With extended skin contact and barrel aging -- full-bodied white or orange wine Experimentation with oak, concrete, amphora, skin contact is becoming common

 

Whites of Dalmatia

Po?ip: Originally from the island of Kor?ula (CORE-chu-lah) where it was shielded form phylloxera as it grew on sandy soils. It also grows on the Pelje?ac Peninsula and on Bra? and Hvar, and other islands

The wine is aromatic, herbal, grassy, and acidic. Can be oaked, aged on the lees, huge styles, passito for region?s traditional sweet wine Pro?ek

 

Debit is like minerally Sauvignon Blanc but with more lime than grapefruit flavor. With oak age this wine can be like a medium bodied Chardonnay.

 

Mara?tina is dry and full-bodied with peach, nut, and floral aromas and a full, viscous texture.

 

Vugava: Mostly found on island of Vis in central Dalmatia, which has steep hillsides.

The grape is similar to the Rhône Valley?s Viognier ?it can get overripe and its lovely notes of apricot, honey, and flowers can verge on excessive, especially when accompanied by high alcohol and low acidity. For this reason, it used to be for blending only but growers are getting better at making varietal versions

 

 

Reds

Plavac Mali: The third most planted variety, it is grown mostly in southern Dalmatia, in bush vines on rocky soils and steep south-facing slopes. Dinga? and Postup on the Pelje?ac peninsula are famed.

Cross between Crlenjak Ka?telanski (Tribidrag or Crljenak Ka?telanski depending on the locality ancestral Zinfandel) and Dobri?i? (an ancient red wine grape variety from the Dalmatian coast). Similarities to Zinfandel: flavors like raisins, plums, and herbs. Both ripen to very high alcohol and have problems with uneven ripening, which makes them difficult to grow. Differences with Zinfandel: Plavac Mali is denser and heavier than Zinfandel and can have more black cherry flavors and more tannin. Plavac Mali can have lower acidity and producers sometimes do it no favors by putting it in new oak for too long

 

 

Babi?: A small percentage is grown but some is imported to the US. It is grown Northern Dalmatia, NE of Split, some on the island of Kor?ula

The grape is related to Dobri?i? so it is also a relative of Plavac Mali The wines are full bodied, herbal, acidic, with cherry notes, soft tannins, and lower alcohol levels

 

 

Teran: Grown in Istria, this lighter style, thin-skinned grape was grown in Istria for centuries, replaced with French varieties but is making a comeback

The wines have good acidity and tannin. They look dark but have lighter aromas like red fruit, earthy, herbs, pepper. These wines are good for barrel aging and can age

 

Sources: Vina CroatiaWine Anorak, The BuyerSevenFifty, Wine Enthusiast

__________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors:

 

Wine Access     

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range).

They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops. Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps. Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed!

Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

 

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

2021-04-20
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Ep 370: Six (or Twelve) Unorthodox Wines for Spring

For this show, we discuss a list of lovely reds and whites that you won't see on other lists for spring wines. Etna from Sicily? Check. Chignin Bergeron from Savoie in France? Yup. If you're looking for a change from the norm and a great spring list, here it is! 

As promised, here is the list...with some example labels to make shopping easy (see the winefornormalpeople.com/blog for label examples)

 

With its medium body, excellent acidity, and minerally flavors, Etna Rosso from Sicily is a must have for spring. It can gracefully handle grilled food as well as it does mushroom risottos!

The bonus wine: Etna Bianco, made of the Carricante grape. Similar nature, but with a greater hit of acidity and a cheek coating texture. Taste the volcano! 

 

As we called it in the Chardonnay episode, Jura is the Bizarro Burgundy. It's just across the Bresse plain and grows similar grapes...except when it doesn't. In the Arbois region, light, spicy, peppery reds of Poulsard and Trousseau can be lovely on a spring evening with salads, morel mushrooms, and flavorful fish like salmon.

The bonus wines: sparkling Crémant from the Jura made of Chardonnay and becoming more widely available OR Chignin Bergeron, aka Roussanne, from the neighboring region, Savoie. That peachy, herbal, fuller body with good acidity is great when there?s still a chill in the air but you still want to stay outside!

 

Bordeaux, M.C. Ice?s favorite. For spring, a white Bordeaux with a large proportion of the waxy, peachy, sautéed herb, honeycomb flavored/textured Sémillon is nice as the nights warm up. Sauvignon Blanc gives these blends excellent acidity and herbal aromatics but you just need a touch of that when we?re dealing with spring. The great part about Bordeaux Blanc? You can switch to Sauvignon Blanc heavy blends in the summer for a more refreshing bottle! I recommend steering clear of Bordeaux Blanc and Bordeaux Blanc Superieur (unless you know the producer) and seeking out wines from the Côtes de Bordeaux (label examples below). If you can swing it, get a wine from Pessac-Leognan ? the best areas for whites in Bordeaux.

The bonus wines: Merlot heavy red blends from the Côtes de Bordeaux?Castillon and Francs are the more serious areas but Blaye may be the most refreshing for our spring hit list.

No list of mine is complete without Alsace, France. However, this time I?m switching up my regular Riesling reco and instead recommending Pinot Gris. We?re not in summer yet and the nights can have a nip, so Alsace Pinot Gris, with pear, citrus, white flower, and smoke notes, and a medium body will be a versatile sipper. It goes so well with onion tartlets, mushroom quiche, and chicken in herbal and citrus preparations!

The bonus wine: Yup, I?m doing it. Pinot Grigio. No, not the alcoholic lemon water! The good stuff from Trentino Alto-Adige. If you get a case, try the Pinot Gris and the Pinot Grigio together to see the similarities and differences. Pinot Grigio will be nuttier with higher acidity and more lemon notes, but the similarity will be far greater between these two wines than if you get a cheapy from the bottom shelf of the grocery!

 

Rosé. Here?s the one on everyone?s list, but rightfully so. Fresh rosé is released in the springtime and there is nothing better than newly released rosé. Provence is the standard ? especially from sub regions like Sainte-Victoire, Frejus, and La Londe. We forgot to mention Tavel and Bandol in the show, which are always homeruns. Rosé is versatile in pairing ? fried foods, grilled salmon, strawberry salads with goat cheese, and pasta with pesto (pistou as it?s known in Provence) are some options.

Bonus wines: Other styles of rosé, especially California with its sun kissed styles from Pinot Noir or Spanish rosé from Tempranillo, Garnacha, or Monastrell are outstanding and great for a contrast against the lighter Provence style. Italian rosato can be wonderful as well and is made in most regions from their local grapes.

 

The last one was really ?Sophie?s Choice? for me. I couldn?t decide between Malbec and Torrontés from high elevation Salta in Argentina or Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from cool climate Casablanca from Chile. Ultimately the floral, peachy yet acidic and slightly bitter Torrontés from Cafayate/Salta and its intense, yet elegant counterpart Malbec from the same region seemed to be best for us. M.C. Ice astutely pointed out that for people living in hotter areas where spring becomes summer-like quickly, the high acidity and refreshing lighter notes in the Chilean wines were the winners. Either way, you can?t go wrong!

 

Happy Spring! We hope you drink well, and that this list gives you at least one new idea to try as the days heat up slowly over the next few months.

 

__________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors:

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

 

 

Wine Access     

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range).

They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops. Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps. Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed!

Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

2021-04-12
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Ep 369: The Greats -Sauternes and Barsac

Of the greatest sweet wines of the world, those of Bordeaux ? Sauternes and Barsac ? may be the most famed. These small regions (covering just 2,217 ha/5,478 acres) and their 132 producers, make some of the world's most prestigious, long-lived and expensive sweet wines.

Source: https://yquem.fr/int-en/the-miracle-of-yquem

Located just 40 miles/65 km south of Bordeaux city, along the Garonne and Ciron Rivers, the AOC Sauternes includes the communes of Barsac, Sauternes, Bommes, Fargues, and Preignac. These areas are undulating, with a combination of soils and some elevations up to 240 feet. The Barsac AOC, which can also use Sauternes AOC, stands alone as the commune with unique character ? it is distinguished by its limestone and sandy soils, which create lighter, more minerally and elegant styles of this beautiful wine. This area is flatter, but the Barsac has limestone soils, which make the wines taste as they do.

 

Both Sauternes and Barsac are made from a combination of three main grapes  -Sémillon for structure, smoothness, and richness, Sauvignon Blanc for herbal aromatics and acidity, and a small proportion of Muscadelle, also for aroma.

The key to Sauternes, the thing that makes it stand apart from other sweet wines is the unique climate conditions that occur here regularly in the autumn most harvests. During Autumn mornings in Sauternes, the cooler Ciron River meets the warmer Garonne and condensation or mist forms, covering certain vineyards. These moist areas could be subject to grey rot (and sometimes are) but if those moist conditions are followed by drier, warmer afternoons, instead of grey rot, Botrytis cinerea forms. This fungus attacks grapes, perforating their skins and allowing moisture trapped inside to evaporate when this happens over a number of weeks, the result is a complex wine, that has aromas and flavors like apricot, mango, tropical fruit, honeycomb/beeswax, honeysuckle, hazelnut, almond, flowers, peaches, nutty, pears, orange, (new oak: vanilla, butterscotch), and has sweetness with strong acidity and a long finish. The best of these can age up to 50 years.

Botrytis on grapes: "File:Botrytis-vigne-grappe.jpg" by Stllchang is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

 

In terms of pairing, there are so many ideas that many don?t consider when thinking of Sauternes. Although foie gras is classic, the wine goes well with roasted chicken with thyme and herbs, oysters and seafood dishes, especially lobster and crab, spicy food with some sweetness (especially sweet and sour Chinese dishes, Indian dishes with heat and sweet, and Thai curries). Blue cheese and other salty cheeses are great, and Sauternes or Barsac should definitely be on the table for the Thanksgiving turkey ? adding moisture, acidity, and sweetness to the mix. Traditionally, Sauternes and Barsac are also served as aperitifs, cold and as a welcome to guests as they come in (similar to Champagne).

Sauternes was part of the 1855 Classification of Bordeaux wines ? they were the only whites ranked. There were 27 Cru Classes, 11 First Growths, 15 Second Growths, and Château d? Yquem  at the top of the ranking ? a Premier Cru Supérieur.

 

Among these topics, we discuss the business of Sauternes, the decline in planting and sales, and do an overview of Chåteau d?Yquem, the most famed sweet wine in the world.

Ch d'Yquem, photo credit: Benjamin Zingg, SWZ, CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

We mention other top Château:

In Barsac: Château Climens, Château Coutet, Château Doisey Daëne

In Sauternes: Château Guiraud, Clos Haut-Peyraguey, Château Rabaud-Promis (underrated), Château Sigalas-Rabaud, Château Rieussec, and more.

 

A great deep dive into this interesting, classic region, this podcast gives you another tool to be well-rounded in wine!

 

HUGE Credit to Jane Anson's spectacular "Inside Bordeaux" book for making the research easy and fun! 

__________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors:

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

 

 

Wine Access     

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range).

They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops. Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps. Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed!

Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

 

2021-04-06
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Ep 368: Michael Dhillon of Bindi Wines, Icon of Australia's Boutique Wineries

Michael Dhillon of Bindi Wines is one of the most famous winemakers in Australia. Bindi is a 170 hectare farm of which 7 hectares are planted to Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Michael Dhillon had gained renown through his beautiful wines which show balance and purity in the expression of Bindi's individual vineyard sites.

Famous winemaker and writer James Halliday writes of Michael: ?One of the icons of Macedon. The Chardonnay is top-shelf, the Pinot Noir as remarkable (albeit in a very different idiom) as Bass Phillip, Giaconda or any of the other tiny-production, icon wines. The addition of Heathcote- sourced Shiraz under the Pyrette label confirms Bindi as one of the greatest small producers in Australia.?

Image from https://www.visitmacedonranges.com

The area of Macedon Ranges has dramatic mountains and those high elevations translate to cool climates. Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Shiraz, and sparkling wine are the specialties of the region. Most of the wines are made by family-owned producers who make small amounts of wine. Among them is Bindi 

In the show, the articulate, passionate Michael Dhillon joins us to introduce this magical region, and tell us about his wines, which many think are the best of Australia. 

 

Here is a list of Bindi's wines:

Bindi Block 5 Pinot Noir Bindi Kaye Pinot Noir Bindi Original Vineyard Pinot Noir Bindi Dixon Pinot Noir Bindi Quartz Chardonnay Bindi Kostas Rind Chardonnay Pyrette Heathcote Shiraz

You can get Bindi Wine in the US from www.wineworksonline.com (send them an email if the wines are not up on the site and they can get them for you if you reference the podcast -- I don't make money off the wines, they are helping us out! )

__________________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors:

Wine Access     

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range).

They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops. Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps. Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed!

Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

 

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

2021-03-29
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Ep 367: Chardonnay -- The Grape Miniseries Refresh

In this show we take another look at the regal Chardonnay grape and talk about how it has changed over the years. This is a refresh of a previous show done years ago, so we cover everything we do in a normal grape mini-series. Once you get to know Chardonnay, you realize what a chameleon it really is and how important it is to understand place and producer to get the styles that you like.

Here are some brief show notes (with special focus on writing out regions that you may not have caught while listening)!

 

Chardonnay originated in Burgundy, and is a cross of Pinot Noir and Gouais Blanc. In the vineyard it is early budding and ripening, so frost can be an issue, however it grows very well on a multitude of soils and growers the world around love it for how it takes to most sites. Powdery mildew, coulure (shatter), and rot can cause a headache in the vineyard but with more than 28 clones to choose from, growers can pick what is best for their site.

 

The variety does different things in different climates ? it has lower alcohol and higher acidities with mineral and citrus aromas and flavors in cool climates and is tropical, fruity, and full bodied with low acidity in warmer climates. Soils make a difference too ? well drained soils are best. Limestone is generally considered the best type for Chardonnay with bits of clay and marl to give the wines dimension, but there are lots of different soils that yield beautiful wines from Chardonnay. Drainage and low yields make a world of difference with this grape too.

Chardonnay is a non-aromatic, generally neutral grape that can take on flavors from the vineyard or be a blank canvas on which winemakers show their skills. The grape can and does express terroir, as we see in places like Burgundy, its homeland, but often it is subjected to full malo-lactic fermentation (yielding buttered popcorn notes), oak aging in a high proportion of new, heavily toasted barrels (vanilla, caramel, butterscotch, smoke/char), and battonnage (stirring of the dead yeast cells or lees, to create bready, toasty, yeasty notes in the wine).

 

Chardonnay is ideal for sparkling wine. In cool climates it is floral with low acidity and brings a lightness and elegance to sparkling wines. Champagne, with its long aging on the lees (sur lie, dead yeast cells ? basic Champagne is aged this way for at least 12 months, vintage Champagne 30 months and the Tete de Cuvee, the best Champagnes, even longer), has shown us the changes that can occur with this contact over time ?amino acids, peptides, proteins, and fatty acids for to add aromas and flavors like hazelnuts and honey.

 

 

Old World

Burgundy

Chablis: Steely, minerally wines that are a great expression of the grape. Affordable Grand Cru Côte de Beaune: The most age worthy and famed Chardonnay in the world. Grand cru vineyards that straddle the towns of Puligny-Montrachet and Chassagne-Montrachet: Le Montrachet, Chevalier-Montrachet, Bâtard-Montrachet, Criots-Bâtard-Montrachet, Bienvenues-Bâtard-Montrachet Corton-Charlemagne Côte Chalonnaise Mâconnais: Pouilly-Fuisse is good and improving

Champagne: Blanc de Blancs is pure Chardonnay

 

Other France:

Loire: Used in Crémant and the white blends of Saumur, Anjoy, Touraine Jura (as we call it, Bizarro Burgundy) Languedoc-Roussillon: most Chardonnay is bulk and is bottled under Vins de Pays d'Oc Limoux: Does sparkling Crémant de Limoux, barrel-fermented still wine.

Italy

Often mixed in with Pinot Bianco in the northeast areas -- Alto Adige, Friuli-Venezia-Giulia Franciacorta: Used in this fine sparkling wine of Lombardy Piedmont: Excellent Chardonnay when it?s not too oaky

 

Other Old World Spots

Spain: Used in Cava as a small proportion of the blend, used in some other white blends Austria and Switzerland Eastern Europe: Hungary, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Croatia Israel England: Excellent in sparkling, more varietal wine being made

_________________________________________ 

New World

United States

California: Most important variety Napa: Carneros, Russian River Sonoma: Sonoma Coast, Petaluma Gap, Russian River Central Coast: Santa Barbara (my favorite region), Santa Lucia Highlands, Mendocino: Anderson Valley Central Valley: BULK Washington State: Lots of fruit, maybe less MLF Oregon: The one to watch in the U.S. NY State: Finger Lakes and Long Island Virginia: Linden, Pollak make especially good versions

 

Canada: Niagara, BC

 

Australia

New South Wales: Hunter Valley ? tropical, fruity, buttery, opulent Victoria: Yarra, Mornington Peninsula, Macedon Ranges ? lighter, more acidic wine with good terroir expression South Australia: Eden Valley, Adelaide Hills, nice, still oaky sometimes Margaret River: Can be complex, fruity, good acidity Tasmania: Delicate to complex, good acidity, used in sparkling

 

New Zealand: Ripeness with Acidity, nice herbal character often, excellent from Hawkes Bay where the styles are fatter, to Martinborough, and to Canterbury where the acidity is pronounced.

 

Chile

Casablanca Valley: Ripeness with acidity, not much oak or malolactic fermentation Leyda, San Antonio: Similar to Casablanca Other cool regions: Limarí, Bío Bío and Itata Valleys

 

Argentina

Very much like California Chardonnay. Promising in cooler, higher vineyards - Tupungato. 

 

South Africa ? hot, except in Walker Bay

Walker Bay, Elgin: Soft with mineral and nut notes Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, Paarl: Fuller, can have a lot of oak 

 

Aging

Top Chardonnays can age and need the age: 30 years is not unheard of from great producers of Grands Crus. With Premiers Crus ? more like 20 years is appropriate. Village ? within 8-10 yrs. New World wines generally age for less time, but the length of aging depends on the producer and the area

 

Flavor: We discuss the difference between primary and secondary flavors and how knowing the difference can help point you to styles you prefer:

Primary flavors from the grape: Cooler sites: lemon, chalk, minerals, flint, green apple, citrus, pears, grapefruit (higher acidities, lower alcohols, lighter bodied) Warmer sites: baked apple, pineapple, guava, melon (also fuller bodied, lower acidity, higher alcohol) Secondary flavors from winemaking: Oak notes: Smoke, toast, spice, coconut, vanilla, cinnamon, butterscotch, caramel Malolactic fermentation: buttered popcorn, clotted cream Sur lie aging: toast, nuttiness, yeasty notes Serving temperature effects the flavor. I prefer it a little cooler than is often recommended: 48?-50?/9?-10?C is what I prefer, although many recommend 55?F/12.8?C

 

___________________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors:

Wine Access     

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range).

They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops. Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps. Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed!

Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

 

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

2021-03-23
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Ep 366: Riccardo Sobrino of Cascina Delle Rose, The Toast of Barbaresco's Boutique Producers

Riccardo Sobrino, of Cascina delle Rose, runs a small estate in Barbaresco that produces elegant, perfumed and complex wines and has been in his family for more than 70 years. This 5 ha/12 acre vineyard is a family operation ? he and his brother inherited the property from their parents, who are still involved in major decisions of the winery.

 

Cascina delle Rose was started by Riccardo?s mother, Giovanna Rizzolio, in 1992 on this ideal site ? steep vineyards with calcareous soils on the Tre Stelle vineyard side and clay soils on the Rio Sordo side to yield two equally wonderful but very different Barbarescos. Since its inception, Giovanna insisted on biodiversity, organic viticulture, and making wines that represent the elegance and grace. Made to highlight terroir, these wines represent the elegance and grace that is inherent to the wines of this region.

Photo: Courtesy Cascina delle Rose, Riccardo is second from the right

The estate is run by Davide, Riccardo?s older brother and Riccardo, who I welcome and who I have had an opportunity to visit and learn from in the vineyards and in the winery.

 

In the show we cover:

The history of Barbaresco and of Riccardo?s family in the area We discuss his AWESOME mother, Giovanna Rizzolio, who saved up money working at a job she hated in textiles to buy the winery from her family and create outstanding wines that she made working in concert with the land. Riccardo shares her story and what it was like to be a woman in the early 1990s owning a winery on her own (hint: she is amazing) Riccardo talks about the roles everyone in his family plays in the business ? his brother as head of the vineyards, Riccardo as a co-winemaker and businessman.

 

Barbaresco

Riccardo gives us an excellent view into the terroir of Barbaresco, the MGA system and then we go into detail on his beautiful vineyards, Rio Sordo (heavier soils, a bit bolder in flavor) and Tre Stelle (lighter soils, a bit more elegant in style). Riccardo teaches us about the importance of aspect, elevation, slope, and soil ? it?s a great dork out and so well explained.



We discuss, in detail, the differences between Nebbiolo, Barbera, and Dolcetto. And how Riccardo and Davide work hard in the vineyard to achieve the elegance that typifies Cascina delle Rose.

We wrap with a very useful discussion of how long to age Barbaresco (we both prefer it around 10-15 years, but agree it?s personal preference) and Riccardo gives us his word that tradition at Cascina delle Rose, is sacrosanct, so we can expect these wines to stay in their beautiful style for years to come.

Photo: Courtesy Cascina delle Rose, View of property

___________________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors:

Wine Access     

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range).

They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops. Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps. Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed!

Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

 

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

2021-03-16
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Ep 365: Vins Doux Naturels -- the Underrated, Elegant Wines of Southern France

Vins doux naturels (VDNs), translated to ?naturally sweet wines?, are some of the most historic yet underestimated wines in France. These wines are made using the process of mutage ? adding neutral grape spirit/alcohol ? to fermenting wine in order to halt fermentation and leave sugar in the wine (they aren?t REALLY naturally sweet wine, although producers will say you are preserving the natural sweetness of the wine so that?s the counterpoint).

Image of Rivesaltes: WinesoftheRoussillon.com

The technique of mutage was created in Roussillon in 1285 by Arnaud de Villeneuve, physician of the Royal House of Barcelona from 1281 to 1310 and a professor of the University of Montpellier. It is the same process used to make Port. Here the wine must be around 6% alcohol by volume when grape spirit is added to kill the yeast and bring the alcohol in the wine to 15-18% ABV. Wines retain sugar and this base wine can go many different directions depending on what the producer wants to present in the bottle.

Although these wines can be made with more than 20 different grape varieties, two take primacy: Muscat blanc à petit grains for the white and Grenache noir for the red.

Grenache is great as a young wine but can also be good if aged for years in old oak barrels, sometimes large glass jars (called bonbonnes or demi-johns) developing complexity and tertiary aromas (tobacco, saddle, mocha) Muscat has fresh, grapey aromas, and naturally high acidity so the resulting sweet wines are very balanced. These grapes get more flavor and color if the producer wants to put the juice in contact with the skins and, like the reds, they can also be aged oxidatively

 

Vins Doux Naturels of the Languedoc

We begin the show in the Languedoc, which only produces white vins doux naturels (VDNs) of the Muscat grape. Each of these wines is made from Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains and made in a non oxidative style to show the ripe fruit flavors, honeyed notes and richness contrasting with the acidity of the grape. Here are the four VDN appellations of the Languedoc, all of which are fortified with neutral grape spirit to 15% - 18% alcohol and a minimum of 11% residual sugar (Saint Jean de Minervois has a minimum of 12.5% RS). These wines are all golden in color and made of white grapes:

 

Muscat de Saint Jean de Minervois: Vineyards are at elevation so the wines have a better balance of acidity, more elegance, and are more complex Muscat de Frontignan: the biggest area for VdN in the Languedoc, these wines range in quality but Frontignan has great historic importance as it probably contains France?s earliest vineyard sites and was certainly the country?s first VdN appellation Muscat de Lunel is small and the local co-op makes many of the wines. The best have floral honeyed notes Muscat de Mireval is right next to the coast, immediately northeast of Frontignan and the wines, dominated by co-op production are rarely seen outside of France

 

Vins Doux Naturels of Roussillon

Roussillon was incorporated into France in 1659, but before that was part of Spain, which it borders. There is a very set Catalan influence in this area, which is a hybrid of Spanish and French culture in many ways. Roussillon is shaped like an amphitheater and borders the Mediterranean Sea, the Pyrenees & the Corbières Mountains. This sunniest region of France has rivers which shape the landscape and the terroir.

 

Roussillon is the epicenter of vins doux naturels, making 80% of all VDN. It makes white, and more interestingly, reds whose flavors you will not find anywhere else. After mutage, the VdNs are made reductively (like regular wine where you try to avoid contact with oxygen to maintain fresh flavors) or oxidatively, with exposure to air for varying lengths of time. On the wines of the Roussillon you will see the following labels:

 

Wines that are aged without oxygen (topped off barrels/reductive) and are fruity and strong: Blanc Rosé Rimage (used for Banyuls) Grenat (used for Maury, Rivesaltes) If they have a bit of age but are still reductive you will may see recolté or vendange on the bottle Wines that are aged oxidatively in barrels that are not topped off, thus concentrating flavors and giving the wines more character (similar to tawny Port, rosé is never aged this way, BTW) Ambré: Whites that are oxidatively aged Tuilé: Reds that are oxidatively aged Rancio: VERY rare category of wine. Either whites or reds aged for so long that they taste almost like Madeira. They are aged in glass bonbonnes/demi-Johns that are kept outside or in attics to gain exposure to the temperature extremes to intensify flavor Hors d?Age: Anything aged more than 5 years before release, normally oxidatively aged

Vins Doux Naturel aging in bonbonnes Image Source: Vig'nette

 

 

Roussillon Wines/Areas

 Muscat de Rivesaltes can be made two Muscat varieties blended in varying ratios:

Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains (blend must be at least 50%) which contributes aromas of tropical, citrus fruits (lemon) Muscat of Alexandria which offers aromas and flavors of flowers, herbs (mint) and peaches The wine mellows over time to have honeyed, baked fruit flavors

 

Rivesaltes is France's largest sweet-wine appellation, in terms of area and volume. Rivesaltes wines are blends or single varieties. Grenache Blanc, Grenache Gris, Grenache Noir and Macabeu are the main grapes used

When made from white varieties they can be Rivesaltes Ambré (nutty and caramelized), rancio (Madeira-like, baked notes) or Hors d?Age (aged 5+ years) Rivesaltes Rosé is a fresh, fruity wine made mainly of Grenache Noir. It is aged reductively Rivesaltes Rouge is made mainly of Grenache Noir. It can be Grenat (reductive), Tuilé (oxidative) and for rare bottles, rancio and hors d?age when oxidatively aged

 

 

Maury Doux is in northern Roussillon on steep limestone cliffs at the beginning of the Pyrenees foothills. Maury's vins doux naturels are produced mainly from the Grenache grape varieties.

Maury Blanc is made with mainly Grenache Blanc and Grenache Gris and aged reductively. There are oxidative versions -- Maury Ambré and Hors d?Age Maury Rouge is made with a minimum of 75% Grenache noir with Grenache Blanc, Gris, Carignan, Syrah, Macabeu (max 10%). Similar to Rivesaltes, there are Grenat, Tuilé, hors d?age, and rancio versions. Wines labeled with récolte, vendangeor vintage must have aged a minimum of 12 months in an airtight environment, making them a nonoxidative style of VDN.

Image of Maury: WinesoftheRoussillon.com

 

Banyuls is one of the world's very few fortified red wines. Its best sites are on steep slopes or narrow terraces facing the sea. All Banyuls are made mainly from Grenache grapes of various colors.

Banyuls Rouge is required to be at least 50% Grenache Noir. These wines are the best pairings with all manner of chocolate. These classifications are different from Rivesaltes and Maury Rimage is aged reductively and bottled early. It has black fruit and chocolate flavors Rimage Mis Tardive is Rimage that is aged for 1-3 years Banyuls Tuilé, rancio, and hors d?age are aged oxidatively Banyuls Blanc is made with Grenache blanc and Grenache Gris. It can be ambré, rancio, and hors d?age Banyuls Rosé is young and fresh, made of Grenache Noir and reductive

Banyuls Grand Cru is at least 75% Grenache that is aged for a minimum of 30 months in oak ? so all are slightly oxidized. They can be labeled dry/sec/brut (all are ok to use) as long as it has

2021-03-08
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Ep 364: The High-End World of Rare Wines with Dave Parker of Benchmark Wines

In this episode I welcome David Parker, CEO and Founder of Benchmark Wine Group , which is the largest online seller of fine and rare wines for wine retailers, restaurants and collectors worldwide. Benchmark does auction, retail, wholesale and import. 

Dave is an unusual guest for us in that he specializes in a part of the market that most of us, as normal wine people, know nothing about -- fine and rare (and VERY expensive) wine! He is a great guest and openly shares everything from how Benchmark procures wine to how they ensure the wines are authentic (provenance) to the important things to know about collectible wine, should you decide to dip into this world.

 

As a bonus, David tells us about the Rudy Kurniawan scandal (he knew Rudy!) and he shares great information about how the market works to keep that kind of fraud out of rare wine. 

 

As an important program note: I do need to thank the Patrons for encouraging me to have Dave on as a guest and for providing some great questions for this interview. If you are interested in becoming a Patron to have opportunities like this and to take part in other exclusive conversations, you can join for as little as US$20 per year!

Here are the show notes:

Dave tells us how Benchmark sources wine, how the wine is evaluated and what makes it a good candidate for his portfolio.

 

We discuss provenance/authenticity guarantees, fraud, and how they ensure the wines are in great condition when Benchmark buys them. We discuss the sources of these wines -- from restaurants to private collectors and how Benchmark knows exactly what will work for them. 

"Bordeaux Wines at Fareham Wine Cellar" by Fareham Wine is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Dave tells us how to begin investing in wine ? the types of things people should collect, what you need to start a collection, and how wines become collectible over time. I ask him if these wines are actually worth the money (and he gives a diplomatic answer!)

 

Finally, Dave tells us what makes a wine age-worthy and we have a discussion about tariffs and what that may do to the rare wine market.

 

If you're interested in learning more or starting somewhere, check out Benchmark's site. They have a guarantee of quality, so if you decide to invest it's less risky. 

___________________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors:

Wine Access     

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range).

They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops. Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps. Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed!

Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

 

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

2021-03-01
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Ep 363: The Personal Side of Loire with Serge Dore Importer

Serge Doré, importer of French wine (and American via Quebec?he?s a man of many identities and a worldliness we can only aspire to!) and popular podcast regular, joins us to talk about the Loire Valley. Serge has been visiting the Loire since 1985 and has seen its evolution over the decades. He joins to give us the world of Loire from his perspective, humanize it with stories of producers he imports and some he has just met, and tell us what we can expect from this sometime confusing but wonderfully beautiful and diverse French wine region (for those of you interested in tariffs and how they are affecting business, the last 5 minutes of the pod is also devoted to that topic!).

Here are the notes:

Serge takes us through the main Loire regions. We being in Muscadet/the Pay Nantais. We discuss how far the wine has come in the last 20 years, and what good quality it is now. Serge says it reminds him of a ripe honeydew melon, so the grape name is fitting (the grape is called Melon de Bourgogne). He mentions Domaine Bouchaud whose wines he imports. I mention Domaine Louvetrie as an example of a very rocky, flinty Muscadet.

We talk about Anjou and the lovely Chenin Blanc here. We focus first on Savennières, and then discuss the sweet wines of Quarts de Chaume, Coteaux de Layon, and others in the area. Serge talks about his early experiences with these stunning, yet rare wines.

 

We take a side trip to Sancerre. Serge confirms my hypothesis that Sancerre can sell all day long, but that Pouilly-Fumé has no takers! I mention the great Didier Dageneau and his Silex wine.

 

We discuss the marketing issue for Loire ? namely that they don?t know how to do it! I fell that Anjou blanc and rouge, as well as Saumur blanc and rouge are generally generic and don?t taste great. Serge explains that most growers sell to negociants and co-ops who make seas of blah wines that aren?t from specific areas. The result: Rouge and Blanc from these parts are hard to pin down from a style perspective.

 

Serge loves Saumur- Champigny ? a Cabernet Franc that is light, fruity, lower in alcohol but has great earthy notes. Thierry Germain is the master and is imported by Kermit Lynch. I say I have found it to be hit or miss. Serge reminds me: it?s all about producer.

 

Serge talks about why Touraine is the upcoming region of France and has been for a few years. He cites climate change as making a big difference for the ripeness levels and flavors for Touraine. 2015 was the big shift in the wines.

We mention my new favorite Chinon and St. Nicholas de Bourgueil: Pascal et Alain Lourieux (available on Wine Access). Serge tells us stories about how absolutely focused these brothers are on the vineyard to get the results they do. The story is funny and amazing.

Ahhh, Vouvray! It?s a frustrating topic. Serge tells us about how hard it is to sell because of its many styles and we return to one of the themes of the Loire: superb wines, no marketing savvy. The wine of Serge?s that I love is Domaine Bourillon Dorléans ?La Coulee d?Argent?. It had some age (which I think Vouvray really needs) and was very flinty, with lemon curd and vanilla notes ? tasty! Serge tells us stories of Fred Bourillon, his family and his wine. We briefly discuss the top dog of Vouvray, Domain Huet who makes outstanding, consistent Vouvray.

Source: jamesonf- https://www.flickr.com/photos/jamesonfink/5147142662/
Vouvray AOC moelleux Domaine Huet 1985

Serge tells us about the terroir of Sancerre and the three soil types that make it stunning: Les Caillottes Flint/Silex Terre Blanche ? Clay

 

We discuss the importance of climate and how the two different climates, which switch off at Amboise from maritime influenced to continental, divide the Loire. Slope, breezes, river effects ? all the dorkiness is in this section of the conversation.

 

Serge and I muse about how natural wine may be a bit overhyped by the media where the Loire is concerned. Low intervention/traditional winemaking is the order of the day with the reds and Chenin however, Serge doesn?t hear producers talk about it.

 

Finally, we discuss the issues around tariffs and why they are so destructive for the wine industry in the US.

I love Serge,having him on is such a pleasure. Check out his site to see his selection of wines. 

___________________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors:

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range).

They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops. Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps. Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed!

Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

 

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

2021-02-22
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Ep 362: The Grape Miniseries -- Pinot Gris (Pinot Grigio)

Of the many grapes that we have covered in this series, possibly the hardest to define is the one in this show -- Pinot Gris. It's so complex in part because it goes by many names and can taste neutral and boring to oily, powerful, and bold with notes of smoke, ginger, and spice. It can be bone dry to amazingly sweet and can be powderpuff or very serious in quality.

 

Whatever the incarnation, wine drinkers lap it up! In the U.S., Pinot Grigio (the Italian style) is the second most-consumed wine behind Chardonnay, according to Impact Databank (the sister publication to Wine Spectator). But it's not just the US that loves this wine, it's growing like mad in Australia too. 

 

In this show, we discuss the many sides of Pinot Gris, or Pinot Grigio, or Grauburgunder or whatever you want to call it! Here are the show notes:

 

We first discuss the grape itself:

Pinot Gris, Pinot Grigio, Grauburgunder, or Rulander are all the same grape and all are mutations of Pinot Noir, so similar to their parent that the only thing that is different is the color of the grape after veraision Pinot Gris is one of the darkest skinned grapes that makes white. It's fruit is gray-blue fruit but can be brown- pink,  white or deep purple. As a result, the finished wine can have a copper tinge or be light pink  The adjective gris is French for "gray" and the grape is named so because it has a grayish look to it. The gray name is used everywhere and has been adapted to local culture: Italian (grigio), German (grauer), Slovenian (sivi) and Czech (sede) Pinot Gris is thin skinned and does well in cool to moderate climates with very long growing seasons. Picking decision is essential to the wine's character for every wine but with Pinot Gris, it will determine whether it is insipid and neutral (picked early) or rich with higher alcohol, lower acidity and rich, full flavors like pears, apples, apricot, tropical fruit, ginger, spices, smoke, and mineral

"Pinot Grigio prior to harvest, vintage 2012" by stefano lubiana wines 
is licensed under CC BY 2.0

 

We discuss some general ideas about winemaking

There is a sharp distinction between early picked Pinot Grigio (the Italian style) and full bodied, rich and flavorful Pinot Gris (the Alsace, France style) Most cheap Pinot Grigio, in particular, is picked, fermented and brought to market quickly -- it is a cash cow Pinot Grigio styles rarely use oak, but Pinot Gris (French style) often use older, neutral barrels for fermentation to give the wines texture. These styles also go through sur lie aging to give more texture to the wine 

The Growing regions and their styles:

Pinot Gris/Grigio is grown in: France, Italy, New Zealand, Australia, Austria, Germany, Romania, Canada, the U.S., Hungary, Switzerland, Russia, Moldova, China

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Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio Around the world

Alsace, France

Pinot Gris is 16 % of production in Alsace The grape thrives in the dry, sunny climate, with its long autumns. Yields are kept quite low and the best sites are the Grand Cru sites designated for Pinot Gris Alsace Pinot Gris is layered and bold with honey, ginger, spice, and bold apricot and sometimes tropical fruit notes. It can be picked late harvest (Vendanges Tardive) or allowed to develop botrytis (noble rot) that changes the wines into unctuous, full dessert wines. Occasionally these wines are oak-aged for texture, some are more medium bodied, many have residual sugar, so you must check the producer's style and web site to see how sweet the wine is These wines, in the past, were substitutes for red wines and accordingly, go with fuller food Top producers in Alsace: Albrecht, Blanck, Marcel Deiss, Dopff & Irion, Kuentz-Bas, Albert Mann, René Muré, Schlumberger, Trimbach

Italy

Growing in Veneto, Friuli-Venezia-Giulia, and Trentino Alto Adige, along with a few other northern areas (Valle d'Aosta) the Italian style is always picked a bit early and has an emphasis on dry, mineral flavors Unlike Alsace, where grapes develop over a long season, in Italy the goal is to harvest grapes early, and to have high yields. The result of this overcropping is dilution of flavor and a high acid wine that doesn't reflect the true character of the grape. Many experts charge that much of the Pinot Grigio planted in large vineyards is actually Pinot Bianco or even Trebbiano Toscano In the winery, stainless steel tanks are used and the wine is fermented and bottled quickly but the better wines can have light oak-ageing or skin contact Cheap Pinot Grigio has very little flavor or character. It is cheap and cheerful and nothing else.  In Alto Adige -world-class Pinot Grigios from estate bottling are expensive but lead to nuttier, fruitier flavors that are recognizable as related to Pinot Gris. Producers include: Elena Walch, Franz Haas, Tiefenbruner, San Michele Appiano, Sanct Valentin Pinot Grigio, Alois Lageder, Cantina Terlano In Friuli, Isonzo has full, tropical notes and the cooler areas of Collio and Colli Orientali produce more saline, spicy, and mineral wines that can have a spritz to them. Lis Neris, Vie di Romans, Dessimis, and Marco Felluga are good producers In Valle d?Aosta, experts see high potential for these Pinot Gris to be the best in Italy ? frequently mentioned by critics is Lo Triolet di Marco Martin, called Pinot Gris rather than Pinot Grigio

Germany

Germany ranks third in the world for Grauburgunder production. Most of that is in Rheinhessen, the Pfalz, and Baden These wines tend to be lower in alcohol, higher in acidity and more mineral-driven that Alsace versions with floral, citrusy notes. All versions are made -- sparkling, dry, off-dry, and late harvest and botrytized sweet wine My favorite producer is Müller-Catoir from Pfalz

 In Europe, Pinot Gris is made in...

Burgundy ? some people still use it Loire, where it's called Malvoisie Switzerland, where it has floral notes and a soft texture Luxembourg, where the wines are fuller Slovenia, which specializes in Pinot Grigio with skin contact These skin contact wines only use a bit of contact (24 ? 48 hours of skin contact is common) to give Pinot Grigio flavor without stripping the essence of the grape Other places:  Austria, Romania, Croatia, Hungary

 

New World

New Zealand

Pinot Gris is the more like the Alsace version with a medium body and flavors like apple, pear, honeysuckle, spice, and toast On the North Island, especially from Hawkes Bay and Gisbourne, you'll find ripe full, oily styles of Pinot Gris On the South Island, the volume is large in Marlborough where the wines have spicy and structure but they shine when from North Canterbury.  Good producers include: Seresin, Greywacke, Jules Taylor

 

The United States

California grows a lot of Pinot Grigio but mostly for use in jug wine or cheap "California" appellate wine. Most grows in the hot Central Valley. it is not a focus for most producers Oregon is the real hotspot in the US for Pinot Gris. the area has long, moderate summer days with cooling breezes. It has a longer fall which allows Pinot Gris the space it needs to develop flavor. These wines taste like fresh cut apple, pear, underripe melon, and can be medium bodied, occasionally with oak notes
Bigger Producers include: King Estate (the largest Pinot Gris producer), A to Z, Erath, Adelsheim, Ponzi, and Rainstorm 

 

Canada -- British Columbia 

21.2% of the white wine crop in 2018, makes Pinot Gris the Queen of the whites in BC. I recall it being very serviceable to good

 

Australia

Pinot Grigio or Pinot Gris -- the names and styles are used at will is one of the hottest, fastest growing wines There are no style rules or naming conventions. The wines vary from acidic and light (Italian style) to bold and full (Alsace style). Producers often call full styles Pinot Grigio and light styles Pinot Gris. There is no convention. We mention Kathleen Quealy and Kevin McCarthy of T'Gallant Wines in the Mornington Peninsula of Victoria. Kathleen Quealy was named the ?Queen of Pinot Grigio? back then and she still makes wine under her own label today

 

It's a lot to take in! Who would have thought that something I call alcoholic lemon water (in it's Grigio incarnation) would be so complex! 

 

___________________________________________________________

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Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range).

They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops. Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps. Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed!

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Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
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2021-02-16
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Ep 361: Food and Wine Pairings that Inspire Love

In the tradition of Aphrodite, the goddess of love and fertility, after which aphrodisiacs are named, we give you a list of 12+ foods that inspire love and passion, and the wines to match. Date night just got more exciting!! You can let us know if any of these actually work.

William Blake Richmond, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Here's the list of the top 14 aphrodisiac foods and the wines to pair with them:

1. Watermelon is rich in L-citrulline, an amino acid that helps improve blood flow. Like Viagra, L-citrulline increases blood flow to the sexual organs but without any negative side effects! 

Put it in a salad with feta and arugula (rocket, also and aphrodisiac so you get a double hit of spice in your life).

Wine: Spanish rosé. I like a Monastrell-based wine because it's bolder and fruitier than some other Spanish versions, and you need that fruit to stand up to the flavors in this tasty but sweet, bitter, and salty salad. You can use a California rosé too, but Pinot Noir may be too light so get something a bit bolder and made from a different grape. 

 

2. Salmon (and other cold water fish like herring, anchovies, sardines) has lots of omega-3s, which encourage good moods, good skin, good brainpower and a good sex drive! 

Since salmon can be prepared in so many different ways, we give a few wine ideas:

Raw salmon (sashimi or tartare) goes well with a dry rosé (here you can use a Provence rosé) or Albariño from Rias Baixas, Spain Salmon in a butter sauce (beurre blanc): A slightly oaked Chardonnay like a white Burgundy or an Oregon Pinot Gris could work Grilled salmon: New Zealand Pinot Noir or St. Amour from Beaujolais would be fantastic Blackened salmon: Zinfandel but make sure it's not over-the-top (Here's the wine I said should be the standard for all CA Zin: Nalle Estate Old Vines Zinfandel) 

 

3. Oysters. Both because they are thought to resemble certain female body parts and because Romans in the 2nd century AD claimed that women had much prowess after eating them, oysters have become the standard for aphrodisiac food. 

Wine: If you like the magnification of salt, go for a Chablis, Muscadet, Albariño, or Champagne. If you dislike that, stick with a Bordeaux Blanc or a Côte du Rhône blanc, both of which have lower acidity so it won't make the oysters seem quite as salty. 

 

4. Asparagus. Well M.C. Ice had ALL sorts of issues with this one, but it's on all the lists I've found, so it has to make ours too. Another food that is all about increasing and maintaining sex drive, both its intrinsic properties and its "interesting" shape contribute to its effectiveness. M.C. Ice was grossed out by the smell factor and the shape argument really made him squirm. 

 

5. Avocado. 

This one comes from the Aztecs. They called the avocado tree "ahuacuatl." That means "testicle tree", because the avocados hang in pairs off the branches, so...yeah.

Wine:  Avocado is great alone or in salads, sandwiches, or with Mexican. If you are having Haas avocados, the most popular type in the U.S., you'll notice they are both creamy and nutty. What's a wine that's creamy and nutty? One of my favorite whites: Fiano di Avellino, which has a lovely almond or hazelnut finish. Arneis from Piedmont could work too. 

 

6. Carrot and ginger soup.  Here we go again with the shape thing... but carrots also have beta carotene and lots of other good for you vitamins, which Middle Easterners believed aided in making people more attractive.

Ginger is spicy and it helps get your blood flowing. It also tastes delicious when combined with carrots in a soup! 

Wine: If you're having roasted carrots (and other dishes that will fit this) you can easily pair them with a red like Côtes-du-Rhône or another Grenache-based wine that will be moderate enough to stand up to char but let the carroty flavor shine through. 

If you take our suggestion of the soup (and add coriander, which we mention is known to increase sexual appetite), you'll have a trifecta of goodness that will pair well with Alsace Riesling or a Viognier from California or from the northern Rhône. 

 

7. Truffles. I'm not talking about the chocolate kind. I'm talking about the rare kind found in the Piedmont of Italy that Greeks and Romans both claimed the musky scent of truffles made people's skin more sensitive and that's a good thing for a healthy love life.

Wine: Slightly older Barolo or Barbaresco (also from Piedmont) is a perfect fit for the earthy, barnyard, mushroom note of truffles. Especially if the truffles are with red meat, bolder versions of these Nebbiolo-based wines will be perfect matches. 

If you are having risotto or pasta with truffles, have Fiano di Avellino from Campania, or a bold white from the Rhône. I would steer clear of fruity, young wine for this pairing. 

 

8. Fennel. The ancient Greeks found this vegetable which is like a celery, licorice mash-up (both also alleged aphrodisiacs), to be a real labido enhancer. Maybe it's because it has plant estrogen in it! 

Wine: If you are have a steak with roasted fennel or a soup or stew with a fennel base, a great Northern Rhône Syrah or a more subtle California Syrah will be an excellent pairing. The flavors of a Syrah -- the rich fruit, the black pepper, and the spice will be great with the fennel notes. 

For lighter style fennel dishes like vegetarian soups with a fennel base or chicken with a fennel cream sauce, a white Rioja or a slightly oaky Chardonnay can each hold their flavor and structure against the strong celery/licorice notes well.

 

9. Figs. Like oysters, when cut open, figs allegedly resemble a female body part and for that reason they have always been considered a food for the amorous. Because having them on their own presents a tough wine pairing challenge we recommend having them with a little cheese -- goat, feta or especially blue with counter some of that natural sweetness. 

Wine: If you take the idea of having figs with cheese for your date night appetizer or tapas, you are going to need a very fruity, bold red to pair. Zinfandel, or southern Italian wines like Nero d'Avola, Primitivo (Zinfandel), and Negro Amaro can take on both the sweetness of the figs and the salty, penicillin-like note of the blue cheese. A slightly sweet tawny or ruby Port could also do the trick quite well.

 

10. Pesto (the aphrodisiac trifecta). Basil produces a sense of well-being and boosts fertility. Garlic spices up your desires. Pine nuts have zinc, which increases male potency. Put them together and bam! the most love enhancing potion there is. 

 

Wine: Pesto comes from Liguria, right near the Piedmont region of northwest Italy. Cortese di Gavi and ARneis are classic Piedmont whites that have enough flavor to stand up to the garlic, a nuttiness to go well with the pine nuts, and excellent acidity to make them stand out. If you want a light red, stick with Piedmont again -- a simple Barbera, Freisa or Grignolino will do the trick.

 

11. Dessert of strawberries, raspberries and vanilla cake or whipped cream. Strawberries and raspberries are said to invite love. Latin American legend tells us that the vanilla plant was created when a beautiful young girl fell in love with a boy from the wrong class, and when a god asked for her hand and she said no, he got so angry he turned her into a vanilla plant. 

Wine:  The honeyed, apricot flavors and good acidity of Sauternes or Barsac from Bordeaux would be excellent dessert partners. A late harvest (Auslese) Riesling from Mosel would be great or a lighter style fizzy wine like Moscato d'Asti also work wonders with berry vanilla desserts. Each of these ideas would work but my favorite pairing for berry vanilla desserts is demi sec Champagne

12. Wine! All on it's own, is an aphrodisiac in a bottle! Whether it's because your inhibitions go away or because alcohol also increases blood flow, red wine and Champagne, specifically, have been praised for raising the libidos and amorous intentions of those who consume it (in moderation). Apart from Champagne, which is always a great wine to pair with any food, and to liven up any dinner, here are some love inspired wines to consider:

Romeo and Juliet, the greatest love story of all time, lived in the city of Verona. To pay homage, drink the bold reds of the region: Valpolicella and Amarone

If you want the more pious route, you could pay homage to St. Valentine, the patron of love, marriage, and relationships. His relics are in a few key spots around Europe and you can choose which you like best for your wine selection!

1. St. Valentine's remains lie in Rome. Although Lazio's wines are a bit lacking, you could get a Sagrantino di Montefalco from Umbria (it borders Lazio in the northeast) or a lovely Piedirosso or Aglianico from Campania (borders Lazio to the south). Close enough, and these are great reds!

 

2. Relics of St. Valentine's are also in Madrid. There are some wines coming from Madrid now, but if you can't find those, get the rich reds of Ribera del Duero to inspire love. If you prefer white, get the whites of Rueda, in the same zone as Ribera del Duero, due north of Madrid. 

 

3. It's a little unclear whether the relics in Roquemaure in the Rhône are the real deal, but if it justifies drinking Châteauneuf-du-Pape, which is across the river, I'll go with it! 

**Note: there are also a ton of St. Valentine stuff in Dublin, so if you want a Guinness, that works too! 

Whether its for Valen-wine, date night, or to test the properties of these aphrodisiac foods, we wish you a fun filled night! 

Sources: 

Gourmet Sleuth (this has many more ideas and is a great article!) Cosmopolitan The Healthy The Independent

____________________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors:

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range).

They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops. Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps. Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed!

Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

 

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

 

To sign up for classes (now for UK and Euro time zones!) please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes!

2021-02-08
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