Conference Preview: Basque Adventure

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Today we have a conference preview from Carl Etcheverry, CSW. Carl tells us about his travels through the Basque Country in Spain, and along the way, introduces use to some of the wines that will be poured at his upcoming conference session, “A Basque Adventure.”

There is a grape that grows along the dramatic Atlantic Coastline of Bay of Biscay in the province of Gipuzkoa. This green grape—known as Hondarribi Zuri—is grown by a group of small local family farms, and is used in the production of Txakoli.

Txakoli is typically a white wine (although red and rosado versions exist), and it has been produced in Spain’s Basque Country since as far back as Medieval Times. Centuries later, in the 16th century, Basque sailors took barrels of Txakoli with them while hunting whales or fishing for cod in the cold waters of Newfoundland in order to prevent scurvy on their long journeys.

The Denominación de Origen for Getariako Txakolina created in 1989 was extended in 2008 from the three original villages (Getaria, Zarrautz and Aia) to include the whole of the region of the Gipuzkoa Province. Today the Getariako Txakolina DO spreads over 430 hectares (only half them planted with vines). The annual wine production represents 4 million bottles.

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During my trip to the region, I was lucky enough to visit the Talai Berri winery. Founded in 1992 by Bixente Eizagirre Aginaga, Talai Berri is one of the 30 bodegas in the Gipuzkoa Province and one of 11 located in the village Zarautz. The family estate is 30 acres (12 hectares), and is the only Bodega in the area to have onsite a weather station (a very helpful tool to manage to tend the vineyards). The estate practices sustainable farming methods, and fermentation and ageing of the wine is done in stainless steel vats (no oak). The camino that guides pilgrims to Santiago de Compostella passes through the vineyard.

In 2000, Talai Berri was the first winery to produce a red version of Txakoli, using the red Hondarribi Beltza variety. The Hondarribi Zuri (white) and Hondarribi Beltza (red varietal) represents each 50 % of the vines planted.  The Bodega Talai Berri produces around 90,000 bottles of white, 6,000 bottles of rosado, and 3,000 bottles of red wine per year.

The early morning drive from Saint Etienne-De-Baigorry to the Talai Berri winery in Zarautz took me through thick fog while crossing the dangerous Col d’Ispeguy (1000 meters mountain pass) where I encountered wild horses appearing like ghosts in front of the car. In this region, where 1,870 millimeters (73 inches) of annual rainfall is the norm, the flowering apple trees compete with the vines for the scarce rays of sunshine. After this 3-hour drive, I finally arrived one minute in advance of my appointment scheduled at 9:30 am! That morning, I skipped breakfast to leave early and neglected to drink water.

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When I arrived at the entrance door, I looked pale and green olive. My hostesses welcomed me at the winery with a bottle of Txakoli and kindly brought plates filled with specialties from the fishing village of Getaria: anchovies, fresh tuna and marinated peppers.

I toured the vineyards guided by Itzear, one of the two daughters running the family estate. I noticed that the vines were pruned and trained with the double Guyot System, avoiding the more productive Pergola System commonly used for the production of Albariño in the region of Rías Baixas.

Walking through the rows of vines, I noticed some mildew (a white powdery fungus) covering some of the leaves. Vineyard workers were removing leaves, making sure that there is a good aeration between the feet of the vines to prevent the development of rot caused by the high humidity level.

Back at the tasting room, I enjoyed a glass of white Txakoli: The wine had a luminous pale gold robe, a moderate still nose, with aromas of lemon and green apples on the palate. The wine was precise, ultra-crisp, with a long, mouthwatering finish. I also tasted their Txakoli Rosado (3 hours of skin contact), a Rose “de Coupage” with an orange hue, bracing acidity and gentle aromas of clementine. The Txakoli made with the Hondarribi Beltza (red) variety had a rather pale red robe and strawberry flavor.

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My “Basque Adventure” journey to discover the wines of my ancestors started rather well. This quest of identity through wine brought me to the heart of the Basque culture—from the Annual Solstice Celebrations in the coastal town of San Sebastián, to the Bodegas Ochoa in the Navarra Kingdom and then through the deep inland desert landscapes of Rioja Alavesa (Bodegas Remelluri), finally ending in the rolling hills and green pastures of Irouléguy on the French side (Domaine Brana and Domaine Arretxea).

Carl’s session, “A Basque Adventure,” will be presented on Thursday, August 10, 2017 at 10:30 am as part of the 41st Annual Conference of the Society of Wine Educators, to be held in Portland, Oregon.

Conference Preview: Chenin Blanc—South Africa’s Flagship Grape?

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Today we have a conference preview from Jim Clarke, the U.S. Marketing Manager for Wines of South Africa (WOSA). Jim gives us some background on the Chenin Banc grape in South Africa as an introduction to his upcoming conference session entitled “Chenin Blanc: South Africa’s Flagship Grape?”

Chenin Blanc, especially old vine Chenin, may be the most exciting and confusing grape in South Africa. If you’ve had traditional, Francophile wine training, you think of Chenin Blanc as a cool climate variety. After all, its French home, the Loire Valley, is one of the country’s more northerly regions, and the wines there are renowned for their high acidity, so much so that 60% of the region’s Chenin goes to sparkling wine production, and many of the still wines require a bit of residual sugar for balance. South Africa’s Chenin is mostly planted in warmer areas, where it is prized for keeping its freshness despite the heat.

Historically, South Africa is nonetheless no stranger to Chenin Blanc with a hint of sweetness, but that was more the result of market demands than growing conditions. South Africa pioneered cool-temperature fermentations in the 1950s, and the technique lends itself to (among other things) producing light, off-dry whites very affordably. By the mid-1960s, the world’s biggest packaged (i.e. non-bulk) brand, Lieberstein, was a South African product made in just that style.

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That’s hardly what we’re talking about when we crow about South African Chenin today, though. Much like the way white Zin kept some of California’s best Zinfandel vineyards from being ripped up so that eventually discerning producers would realize they were capable of so much more, the best part of those innocuous off-dry wines like Lieberstein was that they helped preserve a now vital part of South Africa’s vinous patrimony.

Today, those old vines are yielding exciting wines in the hands of forward-thinking winemakers. Chenin Blanc is South Africa’s most planted variety, but it’s still only 18.5% of the country’s plantings. When it comes to old vines, however, Chenin dominates the scene. There are 998 hectares of old vine Chenin Blanc in the Western Cape; compare that to Pinotage, number two in old vine vineyards, at just 189 ha.

How old is old? The Old Vines Project, dedicated to protecting this heritage, says at least 35. That cut-off is about both the nature of the vines, and of the farmers who grow them. At 35, yields tend to lessen significantly, and a farmer might well decide that it’s time to replant, if his or her primary concern is getting a decent tonnage. One of the main goals of the Old Vines Project is to convince farmers that, when worked properly, these vineyards yield higher-quality grapes. These, in turn, can merit premium prices, justifying leaving the vines in the ground. At the same time, the Project works to connect these farmers with winemakers who appreciate the quality grapes and are glad to pay for them.

Rosa Kruger, a journalist-turned-viticulturalist and founder of the Old Vines Project, has led the way with documenting and helping preserve these vineyards since 2002. After work in Stellenbosch and in Cape Point, she moved to Swartland, and her work there with Eben Sadie helped push his name forward as one of the country’s top winemakers. While Rosa is often associated with Eben and the “young guns” of South African winemaking, she also works closely with Anthonij Rupert, a larger producer with four separate brands. Rupert has actually provided the majority of the backing for the Old Vines Project.

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The Project itself was initially little more than a catalog of old vine vineyards, eventually documented and shared with the world on their website, iamold.co.za (currently being revamped). In 2016 Kruger took a director’s role, and day-to-day operations have been handed to Andre Morgenthal, former Communications Director for Wines of South Africa, and Jaco Engelbrecht, a viticulturalist specializing in resuscitating old vineyards. In addition to their work in the vineyards, this has allowed them to raise awareness of the program further abroad, staging tastings in London and elsewhere.

As the Project moves forward, future goals include making sure that today’s 20-30-year-old vines make it to old age. That means reaching out to a much wider range of farmers and encouraging them to think about the future. Ultimately the economics have to work, and that means that old, cheap wine image (not so prevalent in the U.S., but still a problem in some European markets, South Africa’s largest) has to be finally put to bed. This doesn’t mean South African wines will cease to be good values; with the exchange rate as it is, South African wines will continue to over-deliver. Old vines are just one tool that allows the South African wine industry to do so at a high level rather than just on the bargain shelf, and that’s nowhere more apparent than in their Chenin Blancs and Chenin Blanc-based blends.

Jim Clarke’s session—Chenin Blanc: South Africa’s Flagship Grape?—will be presented on Friday, August 11th at 10:30 am as part of SWE’s 41st Annual Conference, to be held in Portland, Oregon.

Conference Preview: The Uco Valley—Terroir in Focus

Martin Kaiser & Marcos Fernandez

Martin Kaiser & Marcos Fernandez

Today we have a conference preview from Nora Z. Favelukes, president of QW Wine Experts. Nora tells us about a “Terroir in Focus” research program based at the Doña Paula Winery in Mendoza, Argentina, and gives us a preview of a presentation entitled “Uco Valley: Terroir in Focus.”    

It’s the Soil that Makes the Difference: Doña Paula Winey, located in Argentina’s Mendoza province, is the test area for a unique study: the Terroir-in-Focus Research Program. This program is dedicated to better understanding the influence of the climate and soils on Malbec. Wine Expert Nora Z. Favelukes visited with Martin Kaiser and Marcos Fernandez, Doña Paula’s Head Viticulturist and Winemaker, and gathered the following enlightening insights.

An Estate with Multiple Conditions: Founded in 1997, Doña Paula rapidly became one of Argentina’s leading producers and exporters of estate-bottled wines. Grapes are sourced from their 1,700 acres of vineyards planted in Luján de Cuyo and Uco Valley—Mendoza’s premier wine regions—at altitudes ranging from 3,280 to 4,400 feet above sea level. These vineyards experience diverse weather conditions and have a great variety of soils—from deep clay loam to alluvial.

Limestone is Key: For the past eleven years, Martin Kaiser has devoted a great deal of his time conducting extensive research throughout Argentina’s terroirs: “While traveling, from the northern to the southern wine regions, I assessed the impact of the diverse climate and soils on each grape variety”, Kaiser narrates briefly. Back at Doña Paula, he piloted a study of over  1,000 pits that showed that limestone is quite common in the region but the effect of its presence is only relevant in cool climate regions (such as the highest areas of Uco Valley) where the fruit shows more ripened flavors when compared with grapes grown in soils with less limestone. Martin adds “Once we identified plots with high content of limestone, we harvested and vinified the grapes separately. I was surprised how limestone positively affects the quality of wines!”

Martin Kaiser explaining—with twigs and flags—the effect of climate and altitude at the highest point of the Alluvia Vineyard in Gualtallary

Martin Kaiser explaining—with twigs and flags—the effect of climate and altitude at the highest point of the Alluvia Vineyard in Gualtallary

Each Malbec is Different: Chief Winemaker, Marcos Fernandez explains that in the past three years he has conducted over 300 micro-vinifications with his team to better understand the impact of the soil on the wines. “The best micro-vinifications were the ones with grapes sourced from calcium carbonate (limestone) and rocky soils. These grapes produced intense wines, with great minerality and sharp tannins” Marcos added, “Our Malbec fruit has enhanced ripened flavors compared with soils with less limestone. Each of our vineyards gives a distinctive aromatic footprint to the Malbec.”

Martin Kaiser and Marcos Fernandez will present their session, “Uco Valley—Terroir in Focus: An In-Depth look at its diverse soils” on Friday, August 11th at 10:30 am as part of SWE’s 41st Annual Conference, to be held in Portland, Oregon. Martin and Marcos will share with us their findings while doing a comparative tasting of Uco Valley Malbec samples:  same vintage, identical vineyard management and vinification techniques. What is the difference? The soils!

Conference Preview: Raffaele Boscaini, Appassimento, and Amarone

Photo via: http://www.masi.it/eng/home

Photo via: http://www.masi.it/eng/home

Conference Preview: Today we have a conference preview from Raffaele Boscaini, Coordinator of the Masi Technical Group. Raffaele tells us about his upcoming session, to be presented as part of SWE’s upcoming 41st Annual Conference. This session looks to include some amazing opportunities to learn about (and taste) the intricacies of Amarone and other wines of Veneto. Read on!

Masi has always been an ambassador for the values of the Venetian Regions. Its story began in 1772, when the Boscaini family, now in its seventh generation, bought several prestigious vineyards in the “Vaio dei Masi”, in the heart of the Valpolicella Classica zone.

With its Masi Historic Venetian Estates, the Boscaini family sanctions its work in promoting the cultural traditions of “territories of excellence” through single vineyard wines (crus) and historic noble estates. In Valpolicella, Masi collaborates with the Conti Serego Alighieri family, descendants of the poet Dante and owners of the estate since 1353.

Considered world leaders in the production of Amarone Classico, Masi has developed recognized expertise in the appassimento technique through the efforts and research of its technical group. The appassimento technique dates back to the Ancient Romans and involves leaving grapes to dry on bamboo racks for the winter months in order to concentrate the aromas and flavors in the resulting wine.

Photo via: http://www.masi.it/eng/home

Photo via: http://www.masi.it/eng/home

While retaining the utmost respect to the ancient traditions, Masi has applied modern winemaking innovation to the appassimento technique and as a result is producing one of the widest and most expertly made range of Amaroni, Recioti and Double Fermentation wines – which together form Masi’s calling card in the world.

During the upcoming SWE Conference in Portland, Raffaele Boscaini, Coordinator of the Masi Technical Group, will lead you in the discovery of the secrets of making Amarone and other similar wines made with semi-dried grapes. This session will include a comparative tasting of wines made from the same grape varieties each separately vinified in both the “fresh” and “semi-dried” stages.

In addition, microvinified varietal wines will be compared with iconic wines from the Masi portfolio, including Bonacosta Valpolicella Classico, the double-fermented Campofiorin (Rosso del Veronese IGT) and the prized Costasera Amarone Classico.  The contribution of each single variety to these exclusive Valpolicella blends will be revealed in a tasting designed to give close up appreciation of the transformation of aromas, perfumes and tastes by the appassimento process. In addition, Raffaele will discuss the current regulations of the DOCG for Amarone and why Masi uses only the indigenous Venetian varietals when producing Amarone, including the recently rediscovered Oseleta.

Raffaele Boscaini’s session will be held on Saturday, August 11 at 1:15 pm as part of SWE’s 41st Annual Conference, to be held in Portland, Oregon.

 

Conference Preview: Comparing the Finest Expressions of Port Wine—Vintage and Colheita

Photo via http://www.sogevinus.com/caves-2/?lang=en

Photo via http://www.sogevinus.com/caves

Today we have a conference preview from Tania Oliveira and Paul Wagner. Tania and Paul will be presenting a session, complete with a side-by-side tasting of Portugal’s two greatest wines: Vintage Port and Colheita Port. This looks to be a fabulous wine tasting opportunity!   

When it comes to teaching Port, we don’t always do a great job.  Sure, we teach people about Vintage Port in all its glory, but somehow we fall short when it comes to the other styles, like Colheita Port.  And at this year’s conference, Tania Oliveira plans to set the record straight.

There are two fundamental styles of Port – Ruby and Tawny – and both styles are produced from a blend of classic Portuguese grape varieties: Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz (known as Tempranillo in Spain), Tinta Cão, Tinta Barroca and Tinta Amarela, among others. (My personal favorite is Bastardo. I’ve never understood why someone hasn’t produce a dessert wine from this grape and called it “Sweet Bastardo”).

The grapes for all Port production are grown in the mountainous Douro Valley, arguably the world’s first demarcated wine appellation (1756).  Running from north central Spain to its outlet in Oporto, the Douro River and its tributaries carve deep valleys through the Marão and Montemuro Mountains where vineyards are planted on steep, terraced slopes in schistous soils.

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The process for growing grapes for Ruby and Tawny Port is entirely same. But, the change becomes clear in the production process.

Ruby Ports are bottle-aged and fruit focused. As young wines, they spend only two years in barrel before bottling to capture lively fruit and spice tones.  The very best Ruby Ports are deeply concentrated wines that can age for decades. Made only in declared vintages – a few times in each decade – Vintage Ports are identified early in their lives and represent the best (and most expensive) style of Ruby Port.

Tawny Ports, on the other hand, are driven by complexity from extended aging in oak. Unlike Ruby Ports, Tawny Ports develop complex, mature aromas and flavors of toffee, dried fruits and toasted nuts. Simpler Tawny Ports are blended and released after three years in barrel. More complex styles are Tawny Ports with “an indication of age,” labelled as ten, twenty, thirty and even forty years old.

The greatest and most complex of all Tawny Ports are Colheita Ports: single harvest Tawny Ports aged for a minimum of seven years in cask – though many spend much longer in barrel. Despite the minimum seven year aging period, top producers that specialize in Colheita Ports choose not to bottle their wines until they receive an order, as indicated by the bottling date on the back label.  This means wines spend decades, or even longer in barrel before being bottled.

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There’s something inexplicably seductive about roaming a cask-lined cellar of Colheita Ports and stumbling upon one marked with your birth year in chalk – you just want to reach out and hug it.

While Ruby and Vintage Ports should be consumed within a few days of opening, Tawny and Colheita Ports can live for weeks after popping the cork. This makes them much more successful as wines in a restaurant setting, and at home. It’s a rare couple that can finish a bottle of Vintage Port over two or three days, but a bottle of Colheita Port from the year they were married can be enjoyed over many memorable dinners in the course of a few weeks.

Unlike many other styles of Port, which are bottled in modern bottling lines, Colheita Ports are usually hand bottled in the Port houses of Vila Nova de Gaia – each bottle hand-filled, hand-corked, and hand-labelled.

At this year’s conference, Tania Oliveira of Sogevinus will offer a selection of Vintage and Tawny Ports as her seminar explores the relationship between Portugal’s two greatest wines. This session will be held on Friday, August 11 at 4:45 pm as part of SWE’s Annual Conference.

 

Conference Preview: What Makes Oregon so Special?

Photo via: http://www.rexhill.com/

Photo via: http://www.rexhill.com/

Today we have a Conference Session Preview from Carrie Kalscheuer, CWE. Carrie tells us about her upcoming session , What Makes Oregon so Special: An Oregon Primer.

Viticulture in Oregon was present as early as the mid-1800s. However, it wasn’t until Pinot Noir was first planted in the 1960’s that Oregon began to capture the greater wine world’s attention. Today, Oregon is a leader in Pinot Noir production with other varieties growing in importance. Chardonnay in particular has made significant strides in quality and sophistication in the last decade.

What makes Oregon so special?

  • Location, location, location –Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay grow beautifully in Oregon’s cool climate regions, which sit between the North 42nd and 46th parallels. The 45th parallel in both hemispheres offers conditions for delicate grapes to develop balanced, concurrent, ripening of sugar, acid, tannin and flavor.
  • Geologic history and soils – Oregon’s exciting geologic history is filled with grand-scale natural phenomenon– volcanic eruptions, shifting tectonic plates and skyscraper-high flood waters. Over the course of millennia, these events have defined not only the beautiful topography and landscape of Oregon, but also its unique soils, which bring complexity to many fine wines.
  • Climate – Oregon summers are filled with abundant sunshine, yet nights remain cool, sometimes with temperature swings approaching 40 degrees Fahrenheit. This strong diurnal swing allows grapes to achieve daytime ripening while retaining vital acidity during the night, creating a natural balance within the grape. Oregon is probably better known for its abundant rainfall, most of which falls during winter and spring. This abundance of water allows for the dry farming of vineyards all across the state, forcing vines to develop deep taproots, which contribute to complexity and phenolic development.
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Building from this natural ideal are the winemaking pioneers of the Oregon wine industry. Throughout its brief history, Oregon’s vintners have observed and experimented with systems for producing internationally acclaimed, sustainably-grown wines. In this seminar, we’ll discuss the ways in which Oregon has evolved from its humble roots into an acclaimed growing region that has become a benchmark for quality wine. We’ll conclude the seminar with a tasting of Pinot Noir from REX HILL’s Jacob Hart Vineyard in the Chehalem Mountains AVA of the Willamette Valley. Showcasing vintages ranging between 2001 and 2015, the tasting discussion will focus on vintage variation, viticulture techniques and the choices made by winemakers and viticulturists in response to Oregon’s weather challenges.

Carrie’s session, What Makes Oregon so Special: An Oregon Primer will be held on Saturday, August 12 at 8:45 am as part of SWE’s 41st Annual Conference, to be held in Portland, Oregon.

Carrie KalscheuerAbout the speaker: Carrie Kalscheuer CWE, is the Director of Sales & Education at A to Z Wineworks/REX HILL. Carrie joined A to Z Wineworks in 2010 after a decade in the wine industry focusing on wine education. She initially managed direct sales for the boutique REX HILL label, developing a knowledgeable hospitality staff while growing sales by a full 50%. Carrie now supports both direct and national sales and offers her enthusiasm and knowledge to teach about Oregon wines and A to Z’s brands around the country.

In addition to a degree in Philosophy, Carrie has earned multiple certifications, including Certified Wine Educator through the Society of Wine Educators, Level 2, Certified Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers, and Level 3, Advanced Certification with Distinction through the Wine & Spirit Education Trust.

Conference Preview: Rosé, Brosé, Frosé!!!

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Today we have a conference preview from Sharron McCarty, CSW. Sharron has been a top-rated presenter at many of our past conferences, so you don’t want to miss this session! Sharron tells us about the exploding popularity of rosé wines, and gives us a preview of her upcoming conference session!  

I hope you can join us in Portland for Rosé, Brosé, Frosé!!!  Rosé is a hot topic! Aaccording to a recent Nielsen poll (03/25/17), rosé is THE fastest growing wine segment, leading in both dollar volume growth (+47.3%) and case volume growth (+21.8%)!

Did you know that more men are ordering rosé at lunch than ever before?  Lighter styled rosés are becoming the brosé of the wine world as more and more of our bro’s are enjoying them at lunch…suggesting you can drink a couple of glasses and still go back and finish the work day rather than falling asleep at your desk!  Adding rosé to frozen (frosé’) cocktails has become quite popular too.

Rosés offer a wide spectrum of colors and styles from a variety of different grapes and regions, and range from bone dry to sweet.  During our session, we will explore the many ways of producing rosé, including direct press and saignée, and look at the impact of the production method on the finished wine. Along the way, we’ll look at some of the most intriguing grapes in the world, and the wines they produce ranging in color from pale “onion skin” or “eye of the partridge” to almost purple.

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While winemaker Nicolas Quille’ will not be able to participate in person, here are his comments on three of the sensuous rosé he produces at Pacific Rim—Unparalleled Provence Rosé, Rainstorm Oregon Pinot Noir Rosé, and  Eufloria Washington Aromatic Rosé.   They are quite different and reflect what Nicolas sees as the 3 main styles that knowledgeable consumers should have in mind when buying:

  • Unparalleled Provence Rosé is a classic direct press rosé which means it is made from red grapes primarily that are pressed with minimal skin contact. The result is a lightly colored wine (onion skin to pale pink) that is fermented dry. This is the gold standard of high quality rosés in the world. Quille says he makes this wine with a family estate in the South of France because they know how to make a luxurious rosé and because it fits his Unparalleled line perfectly (marquee region, classic style & family estate relationship). As is common in the region, this is a blend of Grenache and Syrah (95% red grapes) with a touch of Rolle (aka Vermentino).
  • Rainstorm Pinot Noir Rosé from Oregon is also a direct press wine with a touch (10% or so) of saignée juice. Saignée (bleeding) is a technique where the juice is put in contact with the skin for a short period of time (24 hours is common) in a tank and the colored juice is withdrawn out of the tank. Many view the saignée technique as less qualitative especially when it is a byproduct of red winemaking and when the winemaker attempts to lower the juice to skin ratio of his red fermenters (more skin and less juice resulting in concentrating the red wine). Rainstorm is a little deeper in color than Unparalleled from the saignée and more fruity (red fruit). This type of rosé is common in Burgundy and in Sancerre.
  • Eufloria by Pacific Rim Rosé is a blend of aromatic white grapes (the four nobles of Alsace: Riesling, Muscat, Pinot Gris, and Gewurztraminer) that is “pinked” with a little red wine. The wine has a slight bit of residual sugar. The “pinking” method is common in the new world and in Champagne. This is a nice way to produce an aromatic rosé with a bright pink color.

The rosé craze is on, expanding beyond its seasonality—rose has become a mainstay…join us on the rose bandwagon to taste a broad selection of intriguing rosés from around the world (12 wines)!

Sharron’s session, “Rosé, Brosé, Frosé!” will be presented on Saturday 12, 2017, at 10:30 am as part of SWE’s 41st Annual Conference, to be held in Portland, Oregon.

 

 

Conference Preview: Long Island—More than Just Billy Joel, the Hamptons, or Montauk

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Today we have a guest post from Kathy Falbo, CSW. Kathy tells us about her love for Long Island Merlot, and gives us a preview of her upcoming conference session!

“In a single generation, Long Island winemakers have proved that applying passion and skill to the natural advantages of soil and climate can produce wines of harmony and finesse. Few other regions of the world have come so far, so fast.” – Thomas Matthews, Wine Spectator Magazine

The Long Island Wine Region is over 40 years in the making, and one of the fastest growing wine regions in the country. Yet, still so many people are unfamiliar with its world class wines. Just 75 miles or so from New York City, you can find yourself amidst the beautiful, tranquil country side with rows of vineyards, wineries, antique shops, bed and breakfast destinations, beautiful beaches, and local farm stands.

As a native long Islander and having grown up in Long Island, I am so proud to have this beautiful wine region in my own back yard. (Ok, well, not exactly in my own back yard, but about an hour’s drive away.)

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The history of this island doesn’t go back as far as you may think. In geological terms, Long Island was born yesterday. It’s fish like formation (so appropriate for the island) took place around 11,000 years ago when colliding mountains, shifting sea levels, pounding waves and Titian Canadian glaciers formed a glacial moraine. Long Island is surrounded by an outwash plain produced about 20,000 years ago by Wisconsin Glacier.

The maritime climate, surrounding bodies of water and the well-drained loamy soils are perfect for growing wine grapes.  Especially on the North Fork where the days are sunnier, warmer and longer than on the South Fork. The North Fork is where you will find most Long Islands vineyards, and some of the most amazing sunsets!

Long Island wines can be identified by their distinct, unique, elegant styles and characteristics that distinguish them from wines made anywhere else.

With over 700 acres planted, Merlot is the most widely planted red grape variety in Long Island.  Long Island Merlot is attracting a lot of attention, as it really seems to be emerging. In fact, it is considered by many of the locals as being the best red grape for this area.

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Long Island Merlots are often complex with amazing structure and crisp acidity, making them easy to drink on their own, and extremely food friendly. The maritime climate, long days, cool nights, terroir, cool ocean breezes, and well drained soils give way to fully ripened fruit with plenty of minerality, and graphic notes.

Sharing a similar latitude and maritime climate as France, it is not unlikely to hear a Long Island Merlot being compared to right bank Bordeaux. Though we really are a region all of our own, producing unique, award winning wines.

Did Merlot lose some of its popularity in 2004 after the movie “Sideways?” Just ask any wine professional and most will tell you, yes! Being in wine sales for Paumanok Vineyards (the Native American name for Long Island), it is disturbing to me every time I hear, “Merlot isn’t poplar,” or “Merlot doesn’t sell here!”

Despite the decline in popularity, Merlot is still the 4th most popular wine in America and is rapidly regaining the respect it deserves.

It is my mission to not only help people recognize how far we’ve come as a young wine region, but to understand the quality of all wines coming out of Long Island, and raise awareness of the age worthy, elegant, and delicious merlot and merlot blends we are producing.

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I hope you can join me at SWE’s upcoming annual conference, on Saturday August 12th as we look further in to what makes Long Island wines so special. We will compare the different profiles and expressions of Merlot from three of the top producers in Long Island, as well as three other regions in the country.

About the Author: Kathy was born and raised in Long Island.  After 37 years in the dental industry, Kathy’s passion (and thirst, if you will) for wine ignited after a trip to Napa in 2010. After returning from that Napa trip, Kathy began taking some novice wine classes in NYC., and headed to Long Islands wine region for wine tasting every chance she got.

Kathy’s wine career took place in 2012 when she applied for a positon with Paumanok Vineyards as a tasting room “pourer.” From there she registered with the Society of Wine Educators in 2013. Kathy went to Napa Wine Academy for their five-day prep course in April 2014, and proudly passed her CSW exam on December 15th 2014. In January of 2015 Paumanok Vineyards offered Kathy the wholesale/wine consultant position she currently holds today, and is one of the top producing representatives for Nassau and western Suffolk counties.

 

 

 

 

Conference Preview: Tasting History and the Stories Behind the Wines

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Today we have a conference preview from Valerie Caruso, DWS, CWE, FWS. Valerie will be presenting a session along with Suzanne Hoffman, the author of “Labor of Love: Wine Family Women of Piedmont.” Read on as Valerie tells use the story behind the book, the wine, and her upcoming conference session!  

As wine professionals we can get pretty excited about tasting wines made from obscure grapes. If there’s a story behind the grape, the wine, or the winemaker, that’s even better. So when the prospect of tasting an Albarossa is presented, chances are we’re going to jump on the opportunity. Is there a story? Again, even better!

The Albarossa grape isn’t new, but was created nearly 80 years ago from another obscure grape, Chatus (once confused with Nebbiolo), crossed with Barbera. The first time Italy decided to make wine with it legally, however, was nearly 40 years later. Fast forward another 40 years and we are finding Albarossa making a valiant effort to escape obscurity through producers like not only the well-known Michele Chiarlo, but also the Marenco family of Piemonte.

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Another valiant effort has also been made to bring the stories behind great Piemonte wines into the light. I once wrote, “I always had this feeling that when I opened a bottle of Italian wine what came out was so much more – tradition, passion – and I had to know what the allure was.” When I read Suzanne Hoffman’s book, “Labor of Love: Wine Family Women of Piemonte, I got more than a taste of that allure. It was a full-on drink of centuries of rich, thoughtfully extracted wine history that gave me exactly what I want in a great glass of wine. And you’d better believe I want the full experience.

A virtual exploration of wines from some of the world’s most legendary producers will be paired with the author’s stories during the 41st Annual SWE Conference in Portland, OR. We’ll sip through a portion of the table of contents and recount survival stories, courage during wars, and meet heroic wine families the grandmothers, wives, daughters, sisters, and men behind the legendary labels. We’ll learn about their historical significance to the Piemonte zeitgeist of grape growing and wine making over centuries, poured into the present day but still transcending generations.

People do not only want great wine, they want a story and the story must be authentic,” (Andrea Marenco, page 261). From the Deltetto metodo classico sparkling wine through the Barbera, Barbaresco, Barolo, and Moscato – even Marenco’s Albarossa – we look forward to sharing the family stories of brazen sacrifices, romances, and victories, and revere the legacy of the “Comet of Roero.” All of this is celebrated in the bottle today, and I believe it to be the full, authentic experience.

Val, along with the author, Suzanne, will present A Taste of History: Piemonte Wines, Families and the Historic Women Behind Them at the Society of Wine Educators’ 41st Annual Conference, 10 – 12 August, 2017, in Portland, Oregon. This session is scheduled for Thursday at 11:45 a.m.

Advanced, discounted copies are available at a special price for SWE conference attendees. Contact Suzanne Hoffman at www.winefamilies.com.

tasting history 2Valerie Caruso, DWS, CWE, FWS retired from the Air Force after 25 years of service, packed two suitcases, and moved to Italy for a year to study wine and Italian language. She’s a graduate of the advanced wine studies programs at international hospitality schools and culinary academies in France and Italy, a French Wine Scholar, a Certified Wine Educator, and currently serving on SWE’s Board of Directors. Val also holds the Champagne Master-Level Certificate from the Wine Scholar Guild, and WSET’s Level 4 Diploma in Wines and Spirits. Every Thursday you can find her serving up some weekly wine “edutainment” in her podcast, Wine Two Five, along with co-host and fellow CWE Stephanie Davis, on iTunes and iHeart Radio. 

suzanneSuzanne Hoffman has a diverse international background as an engineer, attorney, entrepreneur, and writer. Born and raised in south Louisiana, she was a long-time permanent resident of Switzerland before moving to Eagle County, Colorado where she works as journalist and author. She’s a wine family expert who has captured behind-the- label stories, captivating photographs and genealogies to give the first-of- its-kind look into the world of Piemontes familial wine industry in her first book, Labor of Love: Wine Family Women of Piemonte. When not immersed in her labor of love of writing, Suzanne delights in alpine skiing, snowshoeing, biking, hiking, and exploring the enchanted world of wine with her husband, Dani.

 

Conference Preview: Antonio Carpenè and the Birth of Prosecco

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Today we have a conference preview about a session about the rise of Prosecco—and so much more. Read on to hear a bit of the story of the fascinating “Father of Prosecco” – and don’t miss the part about that time when he named his children after the elements. Now, that’s a good story!

It was a dream in 1868 that gave rise to Carpenè Malvolti—a dream that became Prosecco.

Antonio Carpenè is the father of Prosecco.  He fought to unify Italy under Garibaldi at the battle of Bezzecca, and then went on to study chemistry at the University of Pavia.

For Antonio Carpenè, chemistry held the secrets of the future and he dedicated his life to the pursuit of that future. He named his first son Rubidium and his second, Etile (Ethyl)—who went on to manage the wine company he founded (and was the first to put the term “Prosecco” on a wine label.  But when Antonio suggested that another child be named Oenocyanin, after the pigment in grape skins, his wife rebelled.  That daughter became Mary—who, out of respect for her father, later named her first son Iridium.

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It was his love of chemistry and the patria of Conegliano that brought him to the world of wine.  Antonio believed that wine, more than any other product, completely expressed the character and quality of a place and he dedicated himself to spreading this message throughout his native land.  Despite his position as a professor at the legendary University of Bologna, he preferred to give Chemistry lectures on a chair in the local piazze around the Veneto, so that every man in the street could benefit from his knowledge.

In addition to founding Carpenè Malvolti, the first modern winery in the Veneto—and the winery that created the style and character that is Prosecco today—he also founded the Instituto Conegliano, now the largest technical winemaking school in the world, and a leader in oenology and viticulture in Italy. The school celebrated its 140th anniversary last year.

Over succeeding generations, the Carpenè family has led the way for the wines of Italy: they founded the Italian Institute of Sparkling Wine, pushed for legislative protection for wine regions and production methods, played key roles in Federvini, the national wine association, and today chair the Technical High School Institute for New Technology to improve education and the use of High Tech in the world of Italian food and wine.

Rosanna Carpenè is now the fifth generation of her family to serve as president of the company, and she continues to drive it forward by marketing her wines in more than fifty countries, and producing a range of products from Prosecco Superiore to Brandy, Grappa, and Classic Method sparkling wines.

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And she has plans for the future…the winery is now completely renovating more than five acres of property in the heart of Conegliano, modernizing the production facility, and contributing to the community by constructing a new public piazza in the heart of the city.  The piazza will celebrate the story of Antonio Carpenè and his contributions to the world of Italian wine, culture, and science.

In this year’s conference, managing director Domenico Scimone will explore this history, culture, and wines of this region, with special attention to the leadership of Antonio Carpenè—the father of Prosecco. The session, entitled “Antonio Carpenè and the Birth of Prosecco” will be held on Friday, August 11, 2017 at 3:00 pm as part of the Society of Wine Educator’s 41st  Annual Conference, to be held in Portland, Oregon. See you there!