Spanish Wine’s Excellent, Terrific, Very, Very Good Week

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Spanish wine must have been on everybody’s minds and lips these past few weeks, as Spain’s Ministry of Agriculture (more specifically, the Ministerio de Agricultura y Pesca, Alimentación y Medio Ambiente—the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Food and the Environment) approved and published the Pliego de Condiciones for four new Denominación de Origen (DO) wines. Several Vino de la Tierra (VdlT or IGP) and Vino de Calidad con indicación geográfica (VCIG) wine regions were also approved, and some were kicked off the list or promoted. More on the IGP and VCIG wines later. For now, please meet Spain’s four newest DOs!

Valtiendas DO: The Valtiendas DO, located in Castilla y León, is approved for red wines and rosé. Rosé is required to be produced using a minimum of 50% Tempranillo; other allowed varieties for rosé include Albillo Mayor, Garnacha Tinta, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah. Red wines are also required to contain a minimum of 50% Tempranillo, and may also contain a portion of Garnacha Tinta, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and/or Syrah. With the promotion of the area to DO, the former Valtiendas VCIG is término (terminated). Click here to download a copy of the Pliego de Condiciones DO Valtiendas (PdC published on September 15, 2017)

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Sierra de Salamaca DO: Located in Castilla y León near the border shared with Portugal, this new DO is located in and around the Sierra de Fracia Mountains, the Las Batuecas National Park, and the Sierras de Béjar Biosphere Reserve. This DO is approved for white, rosé, and red wines.  Approved white grape varieties include Palomino, Viura, and Moscatel de Grano Menudo (Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains). Red wines may be produced using the Refute grape variety (known as Tinta Pinheira in Portugal), as well as Garnacha Tinta and Tempranillo. Rosé may be produced using any of these varieties, provided a minimum of 70% of the blend is red grapes. With the promotion of the area to DO, the former Sierra de Salamanca VCIG is terminated. Click here to download a copy of the Pliego de Condiciones DO Sierra de Salamanca (PdC published on September 12, 2017)

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Lebrija DO: The new Lebrija DO is located in Andalucía. The Lebrija DO is approved for several styles of wine. Dry or off-dry white wines may be produced using a minimum of 50% Palomino, with any remainder filled in with Moscatel de Alejandria (Mucat of Alexandria) and/or Sauvignon Blanc. Dry reds may be produced using Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Tempranillo, Merlot, or Tintilla de Rota (Graciano). Fortified wines (vino generoso de licor) may be produced using the Palomino grape, and must be aged for a minimum of three years. If aged under flor, fortified wines may be labeled as Flor de Lebrija. There is also a category for Moscatel-based sweet wines (vino dulce naturel) made using uva muy madura o soleada (very mature or sun-dried grapes). With the promotion of the area to DO, the former Lebrija VCIG is terminated. Click here to download a copy of the Pliego de Condiciones DO Lebrija (PdC published on September 13, 2017)

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Granada DO: The new Granada DO is located in Andalucía. Contraviesa-Alpujarra is an official sub-zone. This DO is approved for a range of wines including white, red, and rosé (dry, non-sparkling), as well as sparkling wines and late-harvest wines. Sparkling wines may be white or rosé, and must be produced using the traditional method of sparkling wine production—with a minimum of nine months aging on the lees.  There is a long list of approved white grape varieties, which includes Moscatel de Grano Menudo (Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains), Pedro Ximénez, Palomino, Verdejo, Torrontés, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonnay. Other, rather unique (and indigenous) allowed white grapes include Vijiriego and Baladí.  Approved red varieties include Tempranillo, Garnacha Tinta, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Syrah, Pinot Noir, Monastrell (Mourvèdre), Petit Verdot and the indigenous Romé. With the promotion of the area to DO, the former Granada VCIG is terminated. Click here to download a copy of the Pliego de Condiciones DO Granada (PdC published on September 7, 2017)

For references or more information, see the website of Spain’s Ministry of Agriculture.

Post authored by Jane A. Nickles, CSE, CWE – your blog administrator

Rioja Rocks on! Village-specific Wines Approved for the Rioja DOCa…

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The Rioja DOCa has taken another step in its process of modernizing its wine regulations as well as allowing for more information, particularly involving geographical indications, on the labels of its finest wines. This process came to light last June when the Consejo Regulador  de la Denominación de Origen Rioja approved wines of  Viñedos Singulares, effectively allowing the wines of the region to be labeled with the name of a specific (“singular”) vineyard.

As of August 11 (2017), another change has been confirmed with the approval of the use of specific pueblo (village) names as well. Wines produced from the grapes of a specific village will be known as Vinos de Pueblo. Vinos de Pueblo will be required to be labeled under a unique brand name to differentiate them from a producer’s standard Rioja DOCa wines. According to the Drinks Business website, the first three villages to be approved for use as Vinos de Pueblo are Samaniego, San Vicente, and Haro.

In addition, the sub-zones of the Rioja DOCa, well-known to wine students as the Rioja Alta, Rioja Alavesa, and Rioja Baja, will now be known as simply “zones” (zonas). The standards for the use of a  zone-indication on a wine label have also been loosened a bit—a minimum of 85% of the grapes are now required to be grown in the specified zone.

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In summary, the wines of the Rioja DOCa are now allowed to labeled with the following geographic  information:

  • Specific zone (Rioja Alta, Rioja Alavesa, Rioja Baja)
  • Approved single estate/vineyard (Viñedo Singular)
  • Specific village (Vinos de Pueblo)— Samaniego, San Vicente, or Haro

Click here for a nice infographic representing the hierarchy of these new categories: La Nueva Clasificacion de Vinos de Rioja

As of the August changes, Quality Sparkling Wines are now approved for production under the Rioja DOCa, with details on production requirements to follow. And…the changes are still coming, as a revision in the definition for the use of the aging terms Reserva and Gran Reserva is scheduled to come into effect in early 2019.

References/for more information:

Post authored by Jane A. Nickles, CSE, CWE – your blog administrator

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News from France: Three New AOCs on the Docket!

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The Institut National de l’Origine et de la Qualité (INAO) has been busy lately, and three new AOCs for French Wine have been approved. They are: Côte d’Or AOC (Burgundy), Corrèze AOC (Southwest France/Nouvelle-Aquitaine), and Vézelay AOC (Burgundy/Yonne). All three of these new AOCs are awaiting final approval from the European Union.

Corrèze AOC: The newly-announced Corrèze AOC is located in the Corrèze Department, situated in Southwest France (Nouvelle-Aquitaine), somewhat inland (east) of Bordeaux. A portion of the Corrèze AOC was previously recognized as the Vins de la Corrèze IGP. The Corrèze AOC is approved for red wines based on Cabernet Franc with the possible addition of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Other approved wines include a sweet, dried-grape “straw wine” produced from the allowed varieties of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, and/or Sauvignon Blanc. Wines approved for production under the subzone “Corrèze-Coteaux de la Vézère” include dry reds produced from 100% Cabernet Franc and dry whites produced from 100% Chenin Blanc. There are currently 185 acres (75 ha) divided among 45 growers planted to vines in the Corrèze AOC.

Vézelay AOC: The newly-recognized Vézelay AOC is located in the southern portion of the Yonne department in Burgundy, and includes the hillsides along both sides of the Cure River (a right tributary of the Yonne River). Four communes— Asquins, Saint Père, Tharoiseau and Vézelay—are included in the region. Vézelay was previously an approved subzone of the Burgundy (Bourgogne) AOC. The Vézelay AOC is approved for dry white wines only, produced from 100% Chardonnay. There are currently 225 acres (90 ha), divided among 25 growers, planted to vines in the AOC.

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Côte D’Or AOC: The Côte D’Or AOC, finally approved by the INAO after more than twenty years of squabbling, represents a new regional appellation for Burgundy wines. The new AOC covers about 2,470 acres (1,000 ha) of area and basically combines the Côte de Nuits and Côte de Beaune areas of production. The Côte D’Or AOC is approved for dry red wines produced from 100% Pinot Noir and dry white wines produced from 100% Chardonnay.

In other news, the EU has approved an AOC for Ail violet de Cadours (Purple Garlic of Cadours), as well as a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) for Charolais de Bourgogne (beef from the grass-fed Charolais cattle of Burgundy).

References/for more information:

Post authored by Jane A. Nickles, CSE, CWE – your blog administrator

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In Memoriam of SWE Member Michael Bryan (1966-2017)

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Michael James Bryan, founder and managing partner of the Atlanta Wine School and wine emporium Vino Venue, left this life on July 9, 2017 surrounded by his family following a long battle with cancer.

A Certified Sommelier and longtime member of the Society of Wine Educators, Michael was an eloquent speaker, superb instructor, and mentor to many. His inspiration and enthusiasm helped thousands of people to evolve as oenophiles.  He founded the Atlanta Wine School in 2003 and brought Vino Venue into being in 2012.  Vino Venue embodied Michael’s talent, knowledge and passion in the wine and culinary world as an Atlanta destination for dining, wine tasting, and private events.

Michael was a 1989 graduate of the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business and a member of the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity.  He held certifications from many internationally-recognized organizations, including: Certified Specialist of Wine from The Society of Wine Educators; Certified Sommelier from the Court of Master Sommeliers, Advanced Certificate (with Merit) from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust of London, Spanish Wine Educator from the Spanish Wine Academy, and International Bordeaux Wine Educator from L’Ecole du Vin in Bordeaux.

Michael’s love for wine education ran deep, and he was passionate about sharing his knowledge with others. You could sense it when he led a wine class, when he talked a customer through the wines in Vino Venue’s Enomatic machines, or when he took a group through wine regions such as Bordeaux, Oregon, or Tuscany.

Michael was also passionate about music, travel and life in general. He was a genuine, generous, ambitious and loving soul. He lit the room up with his presence.  He was optimistic and courageous in the face of cancer until the very end. His perseverance and positive attitude were inspiring.

Michael was born in Oklahoma City in 1966, son of Dorothy Hall Bryan and Larry James Bryan. He is survived by his parents and his wife Lelia Lee Bryan; daughters Willa Napier Bryan, Mackenzie Hidell Bryan and Berkley Kelleher Bryan; brother Dustin Lee Bryan; and step-mother Diana Marie Bryan.

Michael’s life will be celebrated according to his wishes with a party in Atlanta for his friends and family on Sunday, August 13.  In lieu of flowers, please consider donations to the Sarcoma Foundation of America at curesarcoma.org or to The Willa Bryan Education Trust, care of Mason Bahr LLP, 155Technology Pkwy #400, Peachtree Corners, GA 30092.

It’s Official: Twelve Cava de Paraje Calificado Zones Announced!

Photo via: http://www.docava.es/en/gallery/ii-excellence-cava-awards/

Photo via: http://www.docava.es/en/gallery/ii-excellence-cava-awards/

Last week, on July 13, 2017, Isabel García Tejerina —the Spanish Minister of Agriculture, Fishing, Food and the Environment—announced the first 12 zones to have earned the designation of Cava de Paraje Calificado (Qualified Estate [Zone] of Cava).

The first 12 designated zones and the anticipated wines are as follows. It is a bit confusing as the name of the zone is sometimes/sometimes not the same as the proposed name of the wine, but we’ve tried to make it clear. In any case, the name of the zone is listed first (and highlighted in bold), followed by the name(s) of the wines, and then the producer.  Links are provided for all the producers.

  • Torelló Zone, the name of the wines are Gran Torelló and 225—produced by Can Martí de Baix
  • Turó d’en Mota Zone, the name of the wine is Turó d’en Mota—produced by Recardo
  • Serrall del Vell Zone, the name of the wine is Serral del Vell— produced by Recardo  
  • Vallcierera Zone, the name of the wine is Mirgin—produced by Alta Alella  
  • La Capella Zone, the name of the wine is La Capella—produced by Juvé & Camps
  • Can Sala Zone, the name of the wine is Casa Sala—produced by Agrícola Casa Sala/Freixenet
  • La Pleta Zone, the name of the wine is La Pleta—produced by Codorníu
  • El Tros Nou Zone, the name of the wine is El Tros Nou—produced Codorníu
  • La Fideuera Zone, the name of the wine is La Fideuera—produced by Codorníu
  • Claror Zone, the name of the wine is Can Prats—produced by Vins el Cep
  • Font de Jui Zone, the name of the wines are Enoteca, Cellar Batlle, and Ill Lustros—produced by Gramona
  • Terroja Zone, the name of the wine is Sabaté i Coca Reserva Familiar—produced by Sabaté i Coca/Castellroig

The newly-designated wines are scheduled to hit the market towards the end of 2017; it seems the last step in the process is the design and approval of new labels to designate the Cavas de Paraje Calificado status of the wines.

The application process for Cavas de Paraje Calificado is still open, and more estates may be designated in the near future.

References/for more information:

 

Welcome to the World! The Rioja DOCa Approves a new Sub-category

Logo via: http://es.riojawine.com

Logo via: http://es.riojawine.com

Yesterday—June 7, 2017—the Consejo Regulador of the Rioja DOCa approved a new “Single Vineyard” sub-classification of Rioja wines.  The new category is described in Spanish as Viñedos Singulares (which translates literally to “singular [unique] vineyards”).

In order to qualify as a Rioja Viñedo Singular, a particular estate must first apply to the Consejo Regulador. The application must describe the natural features of the estate that differentiate it from the surrounding vineyards. Estates that earn the classification will be subject to approved yields that will be 20% lower than those allowed for the general DOCa. Only manual harvesting will be allowed, and the wines will be subject to two quality control analyses (including one performed just prior to market release).

It was also announced that new regulations for bottle aging—to apply to the reserva and gran reserva designations on Rioja DOCa wines will come into effect in 2019 (more information on these changes will be reported as it becomes available).

In the same press release, the Consejo Regulador of the Rioja DOCa revealed that they are still working on the identification of approved subzones as well as the use of certain approved village names in conjunction with the Rioja DOCa designation.  They also intend to allow for the production of white and rosé sparkling wines (made using the traditional production method and sur lie aged in the bottle for a minimum of 15 month). Both of these initiatives are still in the planning stage.

References/for more information:

Welcome to the World, Cape Town District!

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A new appellation for wine production was announced today: the Cape Town District of South Africa! This new appellation replaces the former regions of Cape Peninsula and Tygerberg, and as such, combines the wards of Durbanville, Philadelphia, Constantia, and Hout Bay under a single District.

There are over 30 wineries located within the new district, including some of South Africa’s most historic and best-known wineries. These include Groot Constantia, Durbanville Hills, Diemersdal, Klein Constantia, Nitida, Meerendal, and Cape Point Vineyards.

According to Rico Basson, CEO of South African wine producers’ organization Vinpro, “As a wine region, Cape Town now encapsulates a wonderful set of dynamics in terms of heritage, culture and modern wine styles. South Africa is already well-known for our wine tourism offering and this new development will add to integrating our strategy of innovative marketing.”

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The geographical indications of South Africa’s wine industry are based around a system known as the “Wine of Origin” (WO) scheme. The Wine of Origin Scheme is administered by the South African Wine and Spirit Board. The various categories of areas, from largest to smallest, are the following:

  • Geographical Units
  • Regions
  • Districts
  • Wards

The new Cape Town District is part of the Coastal Region, which is in turn contained within the Western Cape Geographical Unit.

As for wine students, this means we need to update the flashcards one more time, but on a positive note, there is one less District to memorize!

Welcome to the world, Cape Town District!

References/for more information:

Post authored by Jane A. Nickles, CSE, CWE – your blog administrator

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Welcome to the world, DO Cebreros!

Logo/photo via https://twitter.com/VinosdeCebreros

Logo/photo via https://twitter.com/VinosdeCebreros

According to an announcement in the May 17, 2017 edition of the Boletín del Estado de Castilla y León, Spain has approved a new Denominación de Origen—the DO Cebreros. The new DO is welcomed to the world with the final approval of the Propuesta de Pliego de Condiciones de la D.O.P. “Cebreros” first proposed in November of 2015.

The new DO will be the tenth for the autonomous community of Castilla y León—which currently contains the well-known DOs of Ribera del Duero, Rueda, and Bierzo, among others. The newly-promoted area of Cebreros has been producing wine under a regional Vino de la Tierra (Protected Geographical Indication/PGI) since 1989. The DO Cebreros is located entirely within the province of Ávila.  The area is known for its granite soils and warm Mediterranean climate, and the area’s vineyards are classified as Climate Regions II and III according to the Winkler Climate Index.

The newly-minted DO Cebreros is approved for dry wines in red, white, and rosé. The specifics are as follows:

  • Tinto (red wines) must be a minimum of 95% Garnacha Tinta, with the remaining 5% allowed to be Garnacha Tintorera and/or Tempranillo (or the wine may be 100%% Garnacha Tinta), with a minimum of 13% abv.
  • Rosado (rosé) wines) must be a minimum of 95% Garnacha Tinta, with the remaining 5% allowed to be Garnacha Tintorera and/or Tempranillo (or the wine may be 100%% Garnacha Tinta), with a minimum of 12% abv.
  • Blanco (white wines) must be 100% Albillo Real, with a minimum of 12% abv.

There are no oak aging requirements for any DO Cebreros wines, although oak aging is allowed and often used.

More information (and a map) of the newly-minted DO will be announced as it becomes available, and as it moves through the process of EU approvals. But for now, we would like to say “Welcome to the world, DO Cebreros!”

References/for more information:

The Vinos de Cebreros logo was designed by Alfonso Giménez Ventura.

Post authored by Jane A. Nickles, CSE, CWE – your blog administrator

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Italy Approves its 335th DOC: Delle Venezie DOC

Photo via: http://www.veronafiere.it/en/press/photo-gallery/

Photo via: http://www.veronafiere.it/en/press/photo-gallery/

Earlier this month, during a “talk show” on center stage at Vinitaly, a new DOC was announced. The new denominación de origen (DOC), Italy’s 335th, will be known as the Delle Venezie DOC and is approved for Pinot Grigio (still as well as sparkling) and white blends (bianco). The delineated region includes the entirety of the Veneto and Friuli-Venezia Giulia regions, as well as the province of Trentino.

The super-star wine of the DOC will undoubtedly be its Pinot Grigio. A large majority of the varietal Pinot Grigio produced in Italy comes from this area, and much of it will now qualify for DOC status. While the new DOC is still awaiting approval from the EU, the Italian Ministry of Agriculture has stated that we may expect to see the Delle Venezie DOC used on wines beginning with the release of the 2017 vintage.

In line with EU standards, Pinot Grigio Delle Venezie DOC will be required to be at least 85% Pinot Grigio. The remainder may be any white grape allowed to be grown in the region, which includes Chardonnay, Friulano (aka Tai), Garganega, Müller-Thurgau, Pinot Bianco, and Verduzzo, among others.  Sparkling Pinot Grigio Delle Venezie DOC must be tank-fermented, and must contain less than 32 g/L of residual sugar.

Blended white wines (bianco) of the DOC will be allowed to be made with any aromatic white grape that is permitted to be cultivated in the area, as long as at least 50% is comprised of one or more of the following:  Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco, Müller-Thurgau, Garganega, Verduzzo, or Friulano (aka Tai).

The protected geographical indication formerly known as the IGP delle Venezie will now be known as the IGP Trevenezie.

References/for more information:

New Standards for Vermouth di Torino!

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Turin has long been recognized as the birthplace of vermouth, and has remained a center of vermouth production since Benedetto Carpano first added an infusion of herbs and spices to the local wines of the region, back in 1786.

Vermouth di Torino is still a popular style of vermouth, and has had protected status since 1991. As of March 22, 2017, the protected status for Vermouth di Torino has been further defined by a new set of technical standards, presented by the Italian Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.

Under these new standards, Vermouth di Torino IGT is defined as an aromatized (flavored) wine produced within the province of Piedmont, using a base of Italian wine, and fortified with the addition of spirits.

Other standards include the following:

  • The main flavoring must be artemisia (an herb also known as wormwood), with additional herbs and spices allowed
  • Alcohol by volume must be between 16% and 22%
  • The color may range from light yellow to amber yellow and red; the color of the final product should reflect the color of the base wines and the flavorings, although the use of caramel coloring is permitted
  • Allowed sweeteners include sugar, grape must, caramel, and honey
  • The type and origin of the base wines may be specified on the label if they represent at least 20% by volume of the finished product

The new standards also allow for a Vermouth di Torino Superiore IGT, with a minimum of 17% alcohol by volume. At least 50% of the base wine and the flavorings used for Vermouth di Torino Superiore (aside from the artemisia) must be grown in Piedmont.

It seems like tonight would be an excellent time to enjoy a Vermouth di Torino straight up or on the rocks—or perhaps a Negroni or a Boulevardier.

What is your favorite way to enjoy Vermouth di Torino?

References/for more information (in Italian):

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