Cash and Prizes: April Re-cap Quiz

Red Bottle NecksAs promised, here is our monthly quiz with Cash and Prizes (well, in this case, prizes)!

Last month’s prize of a copy of  Jancis Robinson’s beautiful new book, Wine Grapes, went over so well we thought we would offer it again.  (It is a beautiful book!)

Every month, we offer an end-of-the-month quiz (with prizes, of course) on the last day of the month.   Quiz questions cover the educational material posted to Wine, Wit, and Wisdom for the month.   This month’s quiz has 20 questions that cover the topics and information included in our posts for the month of April. Everything you need to know to pass the quiz is here on our blog!

To refresh your memory, our posts for the month of April were:

CT food-wine-robinson-book009.jpgEveryone who takes and passes the quiz with 100% of the questions correct by May 7, 2013 (midnight CST) will have their names put into a drawing for a copy of Jancis’ beautiful new book!  You can take the quiz over and over again if you like…it’s all about the education!

The winner will be notified via email on May 8!

Click here for a link to the quiz.

If you have any questions, contact us at: bevspecialist@societyofwineeducators.org .

Good luck!

Update!! Congratulations to Nancy Brazil, the winner of our April Quiz Contest! Nancy lives in California and is a wine lover “learning about wine one glass at a time!” You can get to know Nancy at the Blog she shares with her husband Peter Bourget, “Pull That Cork!”  Congratulations, Nancy!!

Is Virginia “The Bordeaux of North America?”

Guest Author Jay Youmans, MW, CWE, dares to ask the question!

Is Virginia the “Bordeaux of North America?”

MonticelloI know that this is a bold, if not outright outrageous, question to ask about an East Coast wine region that is relatively unknown to most of the country. But before you start pelting me with your Napa Cabs and Your Washington State Merlots, hear me out!

I truly believe that some of the red blends being produced in Virginia are closer stylistically to Bordeaux than the vast majority of wines being made in California, Washington, or Oregon.

I was recently honored to be the Judging Director for the Virginia Governor’s Cup Wine Competition. This was a large and prestigious wine competition, with 377 Virginia wines entered and 43 accomplished wine judges from all over the world.  If you have attended SWE Conferences before, you might know two of our superstar judges – Shields T. Hood and David Denton, both CWE’s.

At the upcoming SWE Conference in Orlando, I will be showcasing the top 12 wines from this year’s Governor’s Cup Competition, and I find it very interesting that 11 of these wines are blends of grapes you would find in Bordeaux and Southwest France.  Here is a list of the wines we will taste:

  • Cooper Vineyards – 2010 Petite Verdot Reserve
  • King Family Vineyards – 2010 Meritage
  • Lovingston Winery – 2009 Josie’s Knoll Estate Reserve (Meritage)
  • Philip Carter Winery – 2010 Cleve (Petite Verdot/Tannat)
  • Pollak Vineyards – 2009 Cabernet Franc Reserve
  • Potomac Point Vineyard and Winery – 2010 Richland Reserve Heritage (Merlot/Cabernet Franc/Cabernet Sauvignon/Tannat/Petite Verdot)
  • Rappahannock Cellars – 2010 Meritage
  • RdV Vineyards – 2010 Rendevous (Meritage)
  • RdV Vineyards – 2010 Lost Mountain (Meritage)
  • Sunset Hills Vineyard – 2010 Mosaic (Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon/
    Cabernet Franc/Petite Verdot)
  • Barboursville Vineyards’ 2009 Octagon 12th Edition (Meritage)
  • Trump Winery – 2008 Sparkling Rose (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir)

Shanandoah Valley MerlotAccording to the Virginia Wine Marketing Board’s “Virginia 2012 Commercial Grape Report,” the most widely planted red grapes in the Commonwealth are Bordeaux varieties:  Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petit Verdot, in that order.  The number 5 red wine grape is Tannat, a variety found throughout southwest France.  The only other red wine grape with much presence in Virginia is Pinot Noir…and it trails pretty far behind.  As a matter of fact, Virginia grows 20 times more Cabernet Franc and 10 times more Cabernet Sauvignon than Pinot Noir.  (Virginia is definitely NOT the Burgundy of North America.)

Fast Facts About the Virginia Wine Industry:

  • The Jamestown settlers had high hopes that Virginia would become a major source of wine for the British Empire…so much so that in 1619 they passed a law requiring each male settler to plant and tend at least ten grapevines.
  • In 1774, Thomas Jefferson, along with Florentine Viticulturist Filippo Mazzei, established vineyards using vitis vinifera grapes on a plot of land adjoining Jefferson’s house at Monticello.  Unfortunately, they had very little success, and soon gave up their efforts altogether due to the revolutionary war.  In 1981, a new venture known as Jefferson vineyards began growing grapes and making wine on the historic site.
  • George Washington, at Mount Vernon, also attempted to grow European grape varieties.  However, every attempt to grow vinifera vines by the colonists met with failure.  Now, almost 240 years later, we know that the main culprit was Phylloxera, as well as other unknown pests and diseases in this new environment.
  • Beginning in the 1800’s, Virginia wines made from Native American grapes were very successful. So much so that, in 1873, a Virginia wine made from Norton, a native American (Vitis Aestivalis) grape variety, was named the “Best Red Wine of All Nations” at the Vienna World’s Fair.
  • At 230 wineries and counting today, Virginia is the fifth largest wine-producing state in the union after California, New York, Washington State and Oregon.
  • Virginia currently has 6 AVAs.  Click here for a list of The AVAs of Virginia .
  • The modern wine industry in Virginia has its share of interesting characters:  Dave Matthews (of the Dave Matthews Band) is the proud owner of Blenheim Vineyards in Charlottesville, and Donald Trump (yes, that Donald Trump) bought the former Kluge Estate Winery in 2011.  Now producing wine under the name Trump Winery, one of their specialties is a Cabernet Sauvignon/Cabernet Franc/Merlot/Petite Verdot blend called “New World Red.”  It seems The Donald might think Virginia is “the Bordeaux of America” as well!

Jay Youmans, MW

If you have an opinion about whether or not Virginia is “The Bordeaux of North America,” would like to, or would like to try these wines and judge for yourself, be sure and join me at this year’s SWE Conference!

Jay Youmans, MW, CWE, owns the Capital Wine School in Washington, DC, www.capitalwineschool.com; and Rock Creek Wine Merchants, a sales & marketing consultancy. In addition, he is a partner in Manse Field, a Pinot Noir vineyard in Martinborough, New Zealand.

Jay will be presenting his session, “Is Virginia the Bordeaux of North America?” at the 37th Annual Conference of the Society of Wine Educators in Orlando on Wednesday, July 31st at 4:45 pm.

Click here for more information on the SWE Conference.

The Maestro

Andre TTTAndré Tchelistcheff (1901-1994) was so impressive as a winemaker that he earned the lasting nickname “The Maestro.”  Born in Moscow, he fled Russia during the Revolution and studied agricultural technology in Czechoslovakia before landing in France, where he studied microbiology, fermentation, and oenology at the Institut Pasteur.

In 1938, Georges de Latour, the owner and founder of Beaulieu Vineyards in Napa Valley, made a tour of France in search of a new winemaker. He was looking for someone with a sophisticated palate and a scientific background.  He found it in André, who was working at the French National Argronomy Institute at the time.  André had already received numerous offers of work from all over the world, yet he accepted the challenge and, in 1938, moved to Napa to become the Vice President and chief winemaker at BV.

Upon his arrival in California, he stopped the over-sulfuring of wines and put an end to the practice of dumping large amounts of ice into the crusher to combat the searing heat of the Napa Valley in fall.  He pioneered the cold fermentation of whites and rosés, the control of malolactic fermentation in red wines, and the use of small barrel aging.  He spent years replacing rusty cast iron piping and pumps that were causing the wines to have unacceptably high levels of metallic concentration.

Napa AndreAndré also pioneered the study of viticulture and terroir in Napa Valley, implementing frost protection in the vineyards and the prevention of grape diseases. He studied the various sub-regions of Napa, identifying areas where world-class Cabernet Sauvignon could be made, and is credited with coming up with the term “Rutherford dust.” Most importantly, he created Georges de Latour Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, which quickly became the benchmark style for high-quality Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.

During his time with Beaulieu, Tchelistcheff trained many soon-to-be-famous winemakers, including Mike Grgich and Joe Heitz. He remained vice president of Beaulieu Vineyards until he retired in 1973.  In his “retirement” he consulted with dozens of wineries and winemakers in California, Washington State and Oregon. One of his first clients was Mary Ann Graf at Simi Winery, who is now recognized as the first woman winemaker in America. In full circle style, he consulted once again with Beaulieu Vineyards from 1991 until his death in 1994.

Always a gentleman, André was well-known and much beloved for his for his quick wit, sharp intellect, and European charm.  He was considered a master of the language of wine, and once described a Beaujolais as “a young woman, barefoot, the wind blowing in her hair, ruffling her blouse.  She has the look on Andre Tchelistcheffher face of an early peach, a teen-age beauty.”

Considered the most influential California winemaker since the repeal of prohibition, his many honors include being inducted into the Culinary Institute of America’s Vintner’s Hall of Fame in 2007, Wine Spectator’s Distinguished Service Award of 1986, and the 1970 Merit Award of the American Society of Enologists.  He was also recognized internationally, being named both a “Chevalier” and an “Officier du Mérite Agricole” by the French government.

However…to all those countless winemakers, grape growers, wineries and wine drinkers from the early days of the California wine industry and beyond, he will always be “The Maestro.”

 

Post written by Jane A. Nickles, CWE (your SWE Blog Administrator) bevspecialist@societyofwineeducators.org

 

The Veneto Fourteen

venice1There have been a lot of changes to the Italian wine laws recently, and the list of DOCG’s keeps growing! At last count, The Veneto has 14 DOCG’s. They are among Italy’s most unique and delicious wines. So, in an effort to keep up with it all, we offer you our latest research on  the fourteen DOCG’s of the Veneto (as of today)!

Amarone della Valpolicella: Amarone della Valpolicella received its DOCG in 2009. Amarone is a well-known version of Valpolicella made using the partially dried grape process known as apassimento. The grapes used for Amarone must be dried until December 1st following the harvest. The wine must also be aged for two years from the 1st of January following the vintage. (Riserva versions must be aged 4 years from November 1st of the vintage year.) The minimum alcohol percentage of Amarone della Valpolicella is 14%. While technically considered a dry wine, small amounts of residual sugar are allowed; the amount allowed is in proportion to the amount of alcohol with higher alcohol wines allowed slightly larger amounts of R.S. Interesting factoid: Valpolicella, as every good wine student surely knows, is made from a blend of mostly Corvina and Rondinella grapes.  However, along with the 2009 DOCG decree, Molinara is no longer a required component of Amarone della Valpolicella, although it may be used in small amounts for blending.

drying-grapes-for-amaroneRecioto della Valpolicella: Like Amarone, Recioto della Valpolicella received its DOCG in 2009. Also like Amarone, Recioto is made from well-ripened grapes that are left to dry following the harvest. The grapes for Recioto must be dried until January 1st following the harvest – one month longer than for Amarone. Unlike Amarone, which is fermented dry (or near-dry), fermentation is arrested in a Recioto at about 12% alcohol, leaving a good deal of residual sugar. Recioto della Valpolicella is a rich, highly extracted, sweet wine with a velvety texture. Only a tiny amount of Recioto della Valpolicella is produced each year; about 2% of the total production of Valpolicella is made into Recioto.

Soave Superiore: The Soave Superiore DOCG was created in 2002 to differentiate some of the large, productive region’s highest quality wines. As in a typical Soave, the Soave Superiore blend is based on 70% Garganega. Other white varieties, including Pinot Bianco, Chardonnay, Verdicchio, Friulano, Cortese, Riesling Italico and Serprina (aka Glera) are allowed in varying degrees to fill up the remaining 30%. Soave Superiore must have a minimum alcohol level of at least 11.5% as opposed to 10.5% for “regular” Soave DOC wines; yields are stricter as well. Interesting Factoid:  The geographic area of the new Soave Superiore DOCG includes the vineyards that were previously the Soave Classico zone as well as some hillside vineyards beyond the original Classico zone. The wines grown in this new part of the zone may be labeled as Soave Colli Scaligeri Superiore DOCG, a name referring to the Scaligieri family, Lords of Verona, who were once owners of the region.

Recioto di Soave: Recioto di Soave received its DOCG in 1998. This is a sweet white wine from the typical Soave blend based on Garganega, produced in the passito style.

Recioto di Gambellara: Gambellara is well known for its dry white wines made from Garganega, Pinot Bianco, Chardonnay and Verdicchio. Located about 8 miles east of Soave, comparisons are inevitable; Gambellara is often thought of the “poor cousin” to Soave. However, the passito-produced, sweet version known as Recioto di Gambellara is highly regarded and received DOCG status in 2008. Alas, Recioto di Gambellara is produced in very small quantities and is rarely seen in America. Interesting factoid: The region also produces Vin Santo di Gambellara. It seems a trip in is order.

MontelviniColli Asolani (aka Asolo Prosecco): In 2009 and 2010, along with the change of the name of the Prosecco grape variety to Glera and an expansion of the boundaries of the Prosecco zone, DOCG’s were awarded to two sub-regions within the Prosecco DOC. The Colli Asolani region extends for about five miles along a ridge of gently rolling hills between the towns of Cornuda and Asolo. The finest vineyards in the Colli Asolani are planted on the southern slopes of the hills, which provide maximum sun exposure, a gentle sloping grade, loose soils, and excellent drainage.

Prosecco di Conegliano Valdobbiadene: If you are a Prosecco lover (and they are legion), you are undoubtedly already familiar with the communes of Conegliano and Valdobbiadance, long considered the finest areas within the Prosecco DOC. In 2009, along with the expansion of the Prosecco DOC and several other changes, the authorities made it “official” by awarding the Communes (and 13 other towns and villages) a DOCG under the umbrella of “Conegliano Valdobbiadene.” Similar to labeling pracitices before the DOCG was granted, a wine can use either commune name (or both) on the label. Wines that are produced from the vineyards within the San Pietro di Barbossa area (east of the commune of Valdobbiadene) can also add the term “Superiore di Cartizze” on the label.

Colli di Conegliano: While Conegliano is best known for Prosecco, the region does produce still wines as well. A small area west of the town itself, known as Colli di Conegliano DOC since 1993, has a tradition of producing still wines, including red, white, and passito versions.  Interesting Factoid:  As of 2011, some of the region’s best wines were elevated to the status of Colli di Conegliano DOCG. Red DOCG wines can be made from the Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Marzemino, Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso, and Incrocio Manzoni grape varieties. Reds must be aged in wood for at least six months, one year for the riserva version. White wines with Colli di Conegliano DOCG status must be made from 33% Incrocio Manzoni and a balance of either Chardonnay or Pinot Bianco. Sauvignon Blanc and Riesing are allowed, in a combined maximum of 10%. There is no aging requirement for the white wines, except that the earliest allowed release date is May 1st following the harvest.

Montello Rosso: The Montello wine region, towards the Northern portion of the Veneto, covers an 8-mile swath from Cornuda to Castelcucco, and includes at least 16 villages in between. This area was inducted into the world of Italy’s DOC’s in 2011 and Montello Rosso was immediately elevated to DOCG status. Montello Rosso wines are made from a Bordeaux-inspired blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Carmenere.

bardolinoBardolino Superiore: Bardolino Superiore was granted DOCG status in 2001, and unlike some of the new DOCG’s with rather complicated regulations, still refers to a typcial Bardolino, which must be made in the dry style, and with the added requirement of at least one year of aging.

Friularo di Bagnoli: The Friularo di Bagnoli DOCG, another new addition to the DOCG world, is located in the southern half of the Padua province. The DOCG covers red wines made from the indigenous Friularo variety, also known as Raboso. The Raboso grape ripens late and thrives in the cold weather that creeps into the area around November. The term “Friularo” might even have come from the latin term for cold, “Frigus” (in Venetian “Frigoearo”). The Friularo di Bagnoli DOCG makes dry red wines, riserva wines, late harvest (vendemmia tardiva) wines harvested after Novmber 11, and wines in the passito style.

Piave Malanotte (aka Malanotte del Piave): The entire Piave zone, first granted DOC status in 1963, is the largest viticultural region in the Veneto, covering more than 50 communes in the area between Treviso and Vincenza.  The Piave Malanotte DOCG was granted a separate DOC and immediately elevated to DOCG in 2011. Piave Malanotte dares to produce red wines in this region dominated by white wines and bubbly. Piave Malanotte must be made from at least 95% Raboso, although this may be divided between Raboso Piave (considered the superior version) and Raboso Veronese, which may account for no more than 30% of the finished blend. This DOCG has some very strict standards. Any wine bearing the Piave Malanotte DOCG label must be aged for at least three years before release, and 15- 30% of the grapes must under go the appassimento drying process until at least December 8th following the vintage. For these reasons, Piave Malanotte is among the most expensive wines of the Veneto.

Lison: Lison is a new DOCG for white wines made from the Tai (formerly Tocai) grape variety. Lison was, until recently, part of the Lison-Pramaggiore DOC. The Lison-Pramaggiore DOC produces a variety of wines including varietals, rosso blends, bianco blends, and sparkling wines based on both indigenous grapes and international varieties. In 2010 the region of Lison was split off from the Lison-Pramaggiore DOC, and was elevated to DOCG status for white wines only.  The geographical boundaries of the Lison DOCG actually cross over from the eastern Veneto into the western portion of Fruili-Veneiza Guilia, making it the only DOCG in Italy to be shared by more than one political region.

Colli Euganei Fior d’Arancio: The Colli Euganei hills, located just south of the town of Padua, are named for the semi-mythical Euganei people who lived in the area before the arrival of the Veneti and the Roman Empire. The hills themselves are of volcanic origin making the soil uniquely rich in minerals. The Colli Euganei DOC was established in 1969 and makes (at last count) at least 12 different wines, including red blends, white blends, varietals and sparkling wines. Merlot, Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco, Cabernet Franc, and Tai are widely grown here, as is the Glera grape variety, which goes by the local name of Serprina.

But enough about the DOC. In 2011, a sweet, sparkling wine made from the Fior d’Arancia grape was singled out for elevation to DOCG status. The Fior d’Arnacia grape variety, whose name can be translated to “orange blossom” is known elsewhere are Orange Muscat or Muscat Fleur d’Oranger. A sweet, sparkling wine made from Muscat…who would have thought?

 

Post written by Jane A. Nickles, CWE (your SWE Blog Administrator) bevspecialist@societyofwineeducators.org

 

 

Le Pays Diois

Clairette VendageAs the legend goes, more than two thousand years ago, in a land called Le Pays Diois, a shepherd lowered a jug of wine into the icy waters of the Drôme River to cool it down.  The wine was forgotten and left in the cold water over the winter.  The shepherd returned in spring, and to his surprise found the wine right where he left it.  When he opened the jug, he discovered a light sparkle to the wine…what the French call pétillance. For centuries afterward, Gallic tribes left jars of wine in the river over the winter, to recover them in the spring…

Many years later, distant relatives of that first Gallic shepherd can drink the same type of wine, now called Clairette de Die.  The vineyards of Die are located about 30 miles east of the Rhône River, at just about the spot where the Northern and Southern sections of the Rhône Valley meet.  This section of the French département of the Drôme, actually part of the Rhône Valley wine region, is home to four distinct AOCs.

France-Rhone ValleyThe vineyards, somewhat isolated in an area of otherwise very little wine production, are planted at altitudes of up to 2,800 feet, making them among the highest altitude vineyards in France.  Planted on the slopes of the Vercors Mountains, the vines are sheltered from morning frosts in the spring.  The chalky argilliferous soil, rich in clay, helps to retain rainwater, which helps the vines survive the long, hot, dry summers.

To make authentic Clairette de Die, the grapes are pressed immediately after harvest and placed in vats to ferment at very low temperatures, replicating the process used in ancient times when jugs of wine were kept in the icy waters of the local rivers.  After one or two months of slow fermentation, the sweet, still-fermenting wine is bottled.  The bottles are kept at a constant temperature of about 50°F and the wine is allowed to continue fermenting for another four months.  Fermentation ends naturally when the wine is still slightly sweet.  The wine is usually clarified by being emptied and quickly re-filled (this is the ancient method, after all).  This method of making Clairette de Die, based on the tradition founded 2,000 years ago, was officially recognized as the “ancestral dioise process” in 1941, and considered unique to this area.

There are four AOC’s in the Pays Diois:

clairette de dieClairette de Die AOC, the most famous of the wines, is a low-alcohol (about 8%), semi-sweet, slightly sparkling wine made using the officially recognized “ancestral dioise process.” Clairette de Die is made from the Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains (75% minimum) and Clairette (25% maximum) grape varieties. Look for aromas and flavors of apricot, peach, tropical fruit, citrus, honeysuckle and white rose.

Crémant de Die AOC, a Traditional Method sparkling wine, historically produced from 100% Clairette, is now made with a Clairette/Aligoté/Muscat blend.  This wine is dry and crisp with aromas and flavors of apple and green fruit.

Coteaux de Die AOC is a still, dry white wine made from 100% Clairette grapes.  The annual production is quite low…only around 1,500 cases, so you’ll most likely have to take a trip to the Diois for a sip!

Châtillon-en-Diois AOC is a still wine made in white, red, and rosé.  The red and rosé versions, produced from Gamay, Pinot Noir, and Syrah, are only made in the vineyards immediately surrounding the village of Châtillon-en-Diois.  The more widely available white version, made from the Aligoté and Chardonnay grapes, is produced throughout the Pays de Diois region.

And please…pronounce it as in Diois (“dee-wah”). Say it right, and you’re halfway there.

 

Post written by Jane A. Nickles, CWE (your SWE Blog Administrator) bevspecialist@societyofwineeducators.org

 

The Sazerac: World’s First Cocktail

Guest Author Jade Helm, CSW, DWS takes us on a trip to New Orleans to try the World’s first cocktail…

Sazerac Cocktails.jpg[1]

World’s first cocktail…it’s quite a claim to fame! But that’s what they say about the Sazerac…

The creation of the Sazerac dates back to 1838 and is credited to Antoine Amedie Peychaud who owned an apothecary in New Orleans.  Peychaud liked to treat his friends to a mixture of Cognac and his special blend of bitters.  He served it in a little egg cup called a “coquetier” (pronounced “ko-k-tay”), and some say this lead to the word “cocktail.” This would indeed make the Sazerac the world’s first cocktail, and the cocktail a truly American invention.

The Sazerac has evolved over time, due in part to necessity.  When the phylloxera epidemic decimated the vineyards of Europe, Cognac was in short supply, so in 1873 American Rye Whiskey became the base spirit of the Sazerac. In the same year, absinthe was added to the recipe. This addition soon revealed its own set of limitations, as we all know how Absinthe’s reputation for causing hallucinations and mental illness caused it to be banned for a time.  However, that was not about to stop the party in New Orleans, and a rinse of Herbsaint replaced the Absinthe in the Sazerac.

Sazerac Bar.jpg[1]With all this folklore at stake, I decided to make a trek to New Orleans to try the Sazerac for myself – in the interest of history, of course! The Sazerac Bar seemed like the right place to start.  The Sazerac Bar is housed inside The Roosevelt Hotel New Orleans, just off Canal Street. Richly appointed with sparkling chandeliers and decadent golden hues this is the type of hotel that makes you at least want to visit the restroom just to have an excuse to look around.  Luckily the Sazerac Bar is just as inviting.  Honey colored walnut and dim lighting remind us of a time when men were men and…well, back to the drink.

While the modern “official” recipe uses Sazerac Rye Whiskey, The Sazerac Bar offers both a whiskey and Cognac version.  I tried them both side by side and am happy to report that I loved both renditions.  The Cognac version was smoother, fruitier, and seemed sweeter. The Peychaud’s Bitters gave the drink added flavors of orange, cardamom seed, and star anise. The rinse of Herbsaint added a hint of anise that seems to linger on the finish.  The version made with Rye Whiskey had a smoky rye flavor and more “bite.” Somehow the whiskey, bitters, and Herbsaint combined to give the drink the aroma of candied citrus peel and floral, honey-like flavors.   What’s not to love?

If you would like to try to make a Sazerac at home, click here for a copy of The official Sazerac Recipe, courtesy of The Sazerac Bar at the Roosevelt Hotel.  Cheers!

Jade Profile PicGuest Author Jade Helm, CSW, DWS is a wine writer, educator, and consultant, as well as the primary author of the Tasting Pour Blog.  She enjoys helping people explore wines whether they are simply tasty and affordable for everyday enjoyment, or worthy of cellaring.  For those who want to understand wine in greater depth, Jade offers information about tasting terms, regions, wine making methods, and just about anything wine! You can find Jade on Facebook, Linkedin, or the Tasting Pour Blog.

 

Very Cool Quiz: Left Bank, Right Bank or…?

Left Bank, Right Bank, or Entre-Deux-MersHow is your knowledge of the geography of Bordeaux?  Does it get a little confusing?

Try a round or two of our latest quiz, named “Left Bank, Right Bank, or Entre-Deux-Mers” – it just might help you out!

Be sure and check back next Sunday – we’ll be posting a new quiz or educational game every week.

And don’t forget – at the end of every month we will have a re-cap quiz covering all of the information presented on our blog for the month.  There will be prizes!

Click here to launch this week’s quiz, “Left Bank, Right Bank, or Entre-Deux-Mers”:

Launch Presentation

If you would like to study a bit, or review what you’ve learned click here for the:  SWE Map of Bordeaux

The Grands Crus de Bordeaux of 2010

Guest Author Paul Wagner takes us along as the Grand Crus de Bordeaux of 2010 travels to San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Washington DC, L.A. and beyond…

san franciscoThe Garden Court at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco began life 140 years ago as an open-air courtyard for horse-drawn carriages. Modeled on the Paris Opera House, the Palace enclosed the courtyard in 1904 and covered it with a glorious expanse of Belle Epoque stained glass. The Garden Court normally serves breakfast and lunch to hotel guests, but on January 18, 2013 the Garden Court is closed for a private event.

Twenty-four hours earlier, more than 110 owners and winemakers of the top chateaux in Bordeaux left their homes to promote the wines of the great 2010 vintage. The tour is a combination of military logistics combined with the grand opera of great wine.

By eight o’clock the next morning the Garden Court is a flurry of activity. Fifty-five tables are draped with sparkling white linen and crystal arranged throughout the room, each to be shared by two of the chateaux. In the center of the Garden Court, a small army of highly trained staff is given a briefing to prepare for their roles in the show.

red wine tasting line up of glassesAt 12:50 the chateau owners begin to arrive at the Garden Court, and the staff takes up its stations. Outside, a crowd of more than 200 importers, distributors, restaurateurs, retailers and media have already registered and are anxiously waiting to get in. The last few chateau owners push their way through the crowd and take their positions at their tables. It’s show time.

The critics are raving about the 2010 vintage.  The Domaine de Chevalier white is described by Gilbert and Gaillard as “Fleshy, polished, very fresh attack with clean, clear-cut aromas. Full, long and ethereal.”

The Wine Spectator describes the Smith-Haut Lafitte red as “Gorgeous, with alluring black tea and warm ganache notes that unfurl slowly, while the core of intense steeped plum, anise, blackberry compote and black currant confiture sits patiently in reserve.”

The buzz in the room is audible. Every chateau seems to have its share of fans and old friends. The chateau owners are now opening more bottles.  Robert Parker says of the Canon La Gaffaliere, “On the palate, the wine is dense and full-bodied, with stunning concentration, purity, texture and length.”  Decanter says that the Pomerol of Petite Village is “Impressive wine this year. The best ever? Dense, complex nose. Explosive fruit on the palate. Velvety texture.”

SauternesNear the end of the tasting, the crowd slows its pace and packs the space in front of the Sauternes tables. A top distributor puts his arm around the shoulders of a famous restaurateur and leans in to share a story. A winemaker from Napa buries his nose in a glass of Suduiraut and then slowly shakes his head in wonderment. His companion chuckles. Exhausted, smiling, with teeth stained black from scores of red wines, the tasters slowly walk out of the Garden Court into the night.

Early the next morning the chateau owners leave for Los Angeles, where they pour at a consumer tasting for more than 2,000 people that afternoon.

The Wine Enthusiast raves about the Cantemerle: “A great success for this southern Médoc chateau, this is fine, elegant and perfumed. It bursts with a black fruit flavor, balanced by smooth tannins and acidity.”

James Suckling says of the Chateau La Lagune, “What a lovely texture to the wine, with super soft and supple tannins and blackberry and currant character.”

new york mapSunday is a travel day to New York, followed by a tasting in the ballroom at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square on Monday, with more than 900 in attendance. It’s time to focus on the Médoc itself, from Margaux to St. Estephe. “Shows serious, well-embedded grip, and the core of fruit is spot on. This has the range, length and cut for the cellar,” the Wine Spectator notes of the Chateau Giscours.

Stephen Tanzer loves the Branaire-Ducru: “Bright ruby-red. Floral aromas of fresh red cherry, redcurrant, violet, gunflint and minerals. Suave on entry, then pliant and sweet, with a plush texture and a smoky quality to the redcurrant, blackberry and floral flavors.”

Jancis Robinson says that the Beychevelle is “Inviting, savoury dark fruit. Wonderfully juicy in the middle of all that tannin structure. Chewy and dense and then a chocolate sweetness at the very end.”

chicago mapIn Chicago, the legendary Drake Hotel sets up the Gold Room the night before in preparation, but a malfunction in the fire sprinkler system soaks one end of the room in the middle of the night. The staff works through the night, and by 11:00 a.m., when a few Bordelais arrive to inspect, the dark red carpet and marble floors are flawless. The grapevine motif in bas relief  glitters on the gold pillars that line the room.

Berry Bros. & Rudd sing an ode to the Pichon Comtesse de Lalande: “Silky, creamy and lush, it has a killer body and a spectacular finish.”

Farr Vintners is enchanted with the Phélan Ségur: “Layered, opulent, ripe and fleshy, this beauty should drink nicely for 10-15 years.”

The group leaves early the next morning to fly to Washington, DC, for their fifth tasting in six days.   While 2010 was a stunning vintage throughout Bordeaux, perhaps the greatest wines are the Sauternes. And like the wines, the reviews are effusive.

dc mapThe Wine Spectator says that the Coutet “Offers a bright inner core of honeysuckle, pineapple, star fruit and white peach flavors, coated for now with heather honey, marzipan and mango notes. Fresh and racy through the finish, this is an elegant beauty, showing terrific cut and precision”

Chateau Suduiraut got the attention of the Wine Enthusiast: “Richly textured, with an opulent feel, concentrated, the fruit buried in the dense flavors. It makes for a big, powerful wine, looking to a long future.”

James Suckling notes the Chateau Guiraud has “Ripe lemon peel and orange. Some honey and vanilla with loads of new wood. Dense and very sweet on the palate with nice pure fruit and firm tannins from the oak that still needs time to soften.”

As they fly home, the Bordelais leave lasting memories of both their wines and themselves. Clyde Beffa of K&L wines notes, “We are told that the 2010s will be long lasting wines. One journalist said that the wines would age for a century… it was another monumental vintage from a magnificent Bordeaux decade.”

Indeed it is. And sixteen days later, one hundred and five chateau owners fly to China. There are other worlds to conquer.

1 paulwagner1 12 11 (3)Paul Wagner is president of Balzac Communications & Marketing and is also an instructor for Napa Valley College’s Viticulture and Enology department and the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone. He is a regular columnist for Vineyards & Winery Management Magazine, and contributes to Allexperts.com in the field of wine and food.

Paul is a founding member of the Academy of Wine Communications, a member of the nominations committee of the Culinary Institute of America’s Vintner’s Hall of Fame, and was inducted into the Spadarini della Castellania di Soave in 2005.

In 2009 he was honored with a “Life Dedicated to Wine” award at the Feria Nacional del Vino (FENAVIN) in Spain. He is also a member of the board of directors of the SWE.

Avvinare…To “Prepare the Glass for Wine”

Guest Author Susannah Gold of Vigneto Communications tells us about the lovely Italian tradition known as Avvinare…

avvinaireMany people are put off by wine jargon and by certain actions that people take when pouring a wine, whether it be decanting a wine or preparing wine glasses. While it is true that some people just like to put on a show, in many cases all of the pomp and circumstance actually has a practical purpose! Most of us would agree, for instance, that decanting a wine allows the wine to breath and can bring out the bouquet of a “closed” wine.

The Italian have a lovely tradition called “Avvinare” which is a method of preparing the glasses to receive the wine.  While it may appear to be just another wine tasting ritual, the purpose is to make sure the glass is clean and odorless.  Often wine glasses are washed in chlorinated water or have some dust or other substances on their surface. The process of Avvinare will neutralize any unwanted aromas, clean off any dust particles, and leave you with a perfectly primed glass!

Start the process of Avvinare by pouring a very small amount of wine into your glass and swirl it around a bit. This is done to “season” the glass. In fact, it is almost always done with the wine you are about to drink in that particular glass.  After you are finished, pour the wine into the glass of the person next to you and continue around the table until everyone’s glass is primed and ready to “receive the wine.”

Of course, there is some showmanship that goes into this process, as one would expect with anything that originates in Italy – dramatic flair, creativity, and a thoroughly practical element.  So the next time you take your wine glasses out, see if you too enjoy avvinando (past participle) your glass. It is a practice well worth doing and one that will become second nature to you.

susannahSusannah Gold, CSW, CSS, has been in communications for 18 years. Formerly a journalist for Dow Jones Newswires, Susannah has worked in PR agencies, in-house and on her own. In 2007, Susannah decided to marry her communications and wine interests and the result was Vigneto Communications, a boutique public relations, marketing and educational consulting firm specialized in the food & wine industry. Susannah has worked with numerous wine importers, producers, and institutions such as Vinitaly, Slow Wine, and numerous retail wine stores.

In addition to holding her CSS, CSW, and a Diploma of Wine & Spirits (DWS) from the Wine & Spirits Education Trust, Susannah is one of only a handful of non-Italians in the Associazione Italiana Sommeliers (AIS) and has completed her certification as a Spanish Wine Educator at the Wine Academy of Spain. You can learn more about Susannah and her work at her popular blog, titled quite appropriately, Avvinare.