Welcome to the World, Willcox AVA!

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Welcome to the World, Willcox AVA!

On September 12, 2016, the TTB announced the establishment of the Willcox American Viticultural Area (AVA). This 526,000-acre area is located in southeastern Arizona within Graham and Cochise Counties. The Willcox AVA is not located within or adjacent to any other viticultural areas.

A range of grapes are grown in the area, with a major nod to Bordeaux and Mediterranean varieties. Some of the stars of the region seem to be Viognier, Tempranillo, and Mourvèdre. There are currently approximately 21 commercial vineyards, 18 wineries, and a total of 454 acres planted to vine (with 650 additional acres planned for the near future) within the Willcox AVA area. The newly-established AVA status will be effective as of October 12, 2016.

Willcox is Arizona’s second AVA.  The first, the Sonoita AVA, was established in 1984. Sonoita, located south of Tucson, is just one county over and about a one-hour drive from the Willcox AVA.  The Sonoita AVA is unique in that it includes vineyards at elevations of up to 5,000 feet above sea level; these are some of the highest-elevation vineyards in North America.

The new Willcox AVA is a relatively flat area located within a broad, shallow basin surrounded by higher mountains and mountain ranges. These include the Chiricahua Mountains, Dos Cabezas, Pinalenos, Dragoon, Little Dragoon, and Winchester Mountains. Over time, the geologic activity of the region has moved or disrupted many of the streams, creeks, and rivers of the area, creating a “closed basin.” This closed basin is reliant upon rainfall to re-charge its underlying aquifer, as opposed to the area surrounding it which has year-round (or seasonal) creeks and streams.

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The soils of the Willcox AVA are mainly alluvial and colluvial and composed of loam made up of nearly equal parts sand, silt, and clay. These loamy soils retain enough water to hydrate the vines while allowing sufficient drainage through to the aquifer. The soils are referred to as the Tubac, Sonoita, Forrest, and Frye soil types, and are not found to a great extent in the area surrounding the AVA.

This area of southeast Arizona is known to have a dry (arid) climate, with the most significant amounts of rainfall typically occurring in July and August. This aridity places stress on the vines during much of the growing season, slowing vegetative growth and adding complexity to the grapes.

Consumers should begin to see wines labeled with the Willcox AVA available within the next two years. Also of note: wine growers in Arizona have a third AVA in the works—the Chiricahua Foothills. This petition has not yet been “accepted as perfected” by the TTB, but it should be interesting to see what develops in the future!

Welcome to the world, Willcox AVA!

post authored by Jane A. Nickles…your blog administrator

2016 Conference Recaps: Saturday Evening

The following sessions were enjoyed by all on Saturday evening, August 13, 2016 as part of SWE’s 40th Annual Conference, held at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington DC!

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What’s so Great about Oak, presented by Bob Sechrist: This session began with the attendees discovering that oak and references to oak are most likely all around them. For proof, just look at the back of a dime, the cork in your wine bottle, or the wooden buttons on your sweater!

Oak is a common fixture in the production of wine as well, and oak actually shares many characteristics with grapes. While they certainly may look different, the two plants both share the following characteristics: both are keystone species, inter-species crosses are common, they are widely distributed, they are non-specialized, they are native to the Northern Hemisphere, and occupy many ecological niches. In terms of culture, they are both prized by humans, historically significant, highly symbolic, and integral to Western Civilization.

Oak has become the leading wood for use in wine barrels due to its unique structure. This includes a tight grain which permits a gradual extraction of wood flavors and minimized wine loss through evaporation. Oak is also resilient, enabling staves to be bent into the curved shapes required by barrels without breaking. Oak is also high in tannin, which is an important flavor component as well as an effective preservative.

This session progressed into even more fascinating topics such as the world’s best oak forests and the typical characteristics found in their wood, the specifics of oak flavor and aroma compounds, the parts and construction of a barrel, and oak alternatives to barrel use in wine production. For more information on this session, click here to download the slide show: whats-so-great-about-oak-presented-by-robert-sechrist-csw

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Exploring the Back Roads of the Côte d’Or, presented by Don Kinnan, CSS, CWE: This session was introduced as a program about Burgundy’s “Blue Collar Wines.” This means a focus on wines that are high on value and (perhaps) low on glamor–but delicious all the same! The reason some otherwise very fine wines are lower in glamor does not necessarily correlate to quality, but more so to location, difficulty in pronunciation (and it accompany lack of popularity), less celebrity, fewer “star” producers, and less distribution.

The region discussed included Marsannay (the northernmost village appellation in the Côte d’Or, Fixin (Gevrey-Chambertin’s “little brother”), Pernand-Vergelesses (which includes 8 premiers crus as well as one-third of the Corton-Charlemagne vineyard), and Savigny-les-Beaune (the second-largest red wine producing village in the Côte de Beaune, after Beaune). For more information on these regions and the wines served during the session, click here to download the slide show: the-backroads-of-the-cote-dor-presented-by-don-kinnan-cwe

Alluring Italy—Wicked Wines, Celestial Cheeses, presented by Sharron McCarthy, CSW: This session began with an overview of Italian wines including the regions, classifications, and amazing diversity of grapes that make up Italian wine. Also included in the discussion was the range of cheese produced by Italy. Then, the session progressed into a tasting of “wicked” Italian wines paired with a selection of “celestial” Italian cheeses.

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The first paring featured a wine from the Veneto, Cantine Maschio Sparkling Rosé produced from Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir, and Raboso grapes. This wine was paired with Quadrello di Bufala cheese from Lombardy. This was followed by a crisp, dry 100%Vermentino La Pettegola from the Toscana IGT paired Pantaleo, a semi-hard goat’s milk cheese from Sardinia. Selections from Tuscany included Poggio alle Mura Brunello di Montalcino Riserva and Summus Estate Bottled Toscana IGT—a deep, ruby red blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah. Cheeses paired with the Tuscan wines included Pecorino Toscano (sheep’s milk) and Fontina Val d’Aosta.

Wines and cheeses from Abruzzo, Emilia-Romagna, and Veneto followed, including a delectable Amarone della Valpolicella. To wrap things up, a classic sweet-and-savory pairing was demonstrated using Florus Moscadello di Montalcino late harvest dessert with serve with Gorgonzola Dolce. For more information on the wicked wines and celestial cheeses of Italy, download the session slide show here: alluring-italy-wicked-wines-celestial-cheeses-presented-by-sharron-mccarthy-csw Sharron also has an overview of Italian wines available for download here: overview-of-italy-2016-sharron-mccarthy

We will be posting additional conference recaps in the next few days. In addition, we are building our permanent archive of notes from the 2016 SWE Conference-click here! If you are a conference speaker who would like to share your materials, please contact Jane A. Nickles at jnickles@societyofwineeducators.org

2016 Conference Recaps: Saturday Afternoon

The following sessions were enjoyed by all on Saturday afternoon, August 13, 2016 as part of SWE’s 40th Annual Conference, held at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington DC!

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A Side of Bourgogne Yet to be Discovered – presented by Jay Youmans, CWE, MW: Did you know that within each subregion of Bourgogne, there are many appellations that remain relatively obscure to the US Market?  In this session, attendees were able to examine a good number of these lesser-known AOCs and just what it is about them that merits consideration by the US—both trade and consumer.

Beginning with the far north of Bourgogne, undiscovered regions include Saint-Bris AOC which produces a white wine based on Sauvignon Blanc and Sauvignon Gris, Petit Chablis with its Chardonnay, and Irancy which produces red with based on Pinot Noir with up to 10% César.

Among the Côte d’Or, regions, some standout “undiscovered” regions include the AOC of the Hautes Côtes de Nuits; the attendees were able to sample a white wine from this AOC as well as red wines from Auxey Duresses, Givry Premier Cru, Monthélie, and Fixin.

The area of the Côte Chalonnaise includes the “undiscovered” areas of Bouzeron, known for its Aligoté, as well as the AOCs of Givry, Mercurey, Rully, and Montagny (which provided another delicious white wine for the group to try). The Mâconnais contains the familiar regions of Pouilly-Fuissé and Saint-Véran, but as this class found out, the AOCs of Pouilly-Loché, Pouilly-Vinzelles, and Viré-Clessé produce delicious wines as well! For more information on the undiscovered AOCs of Bourgogne, and details on the wines served at the session, click here to download the slideshow: a-side-of-bourgogne-yet-to-be-discovered-presented-by-jay-youmans-mw

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International Bordeaux Blends—Blind Tasting Seminar, presented by Eric Hemer, CWE, MS, MW:  This session began with a discussion of the history of the Cabernet Sauvignon grape variety, beginning with its origin in (assumed) early eighteenth century France (in Bordeaux’s Médoc), all the way through the prolific grapes off-spring varieties of Marselan, Centurian, and Ruby Cabernet.

The physical characteristics of the grape (high vigor, late budding, thick-skinned, high tannin) and growing areas were discussed (France, followed by Chile, California, Australia, China, and Argentina). Following this, the grape’s most popular blending partner were examined; the most important being Merlot, followed by Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec, Carmenère, Shiraz, and Sangiovese.

Then, the blind tasting began. Ten Cabernet Sauvignon-based wines from around the world, in vintages ranging from 2009 to 2013 were tasted blind, followed by a discussion of the wine’s major characteristics and flavor attributes. After each discussion, the attendees were invited to decide whether the wines was New World or Old World, give a possible region of origin, and guestimate the percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon in the wine. For more information on the session and the wines included in the tasting, download the slide show here:  international-bordeaux-blends-blind-tasting-and-seminar-presented-by-eric-hemer-cwe-ms-mw

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Wines of Ningxia China: Old World, New World, or Unique presented by Houghton Lee and Tommy Lam: Located somewhat in central China, Ningxia is a young a fast-growing wine region. International grape varieties were first brought to the area in 1982 and there are now 85 operating wineries and over 87,000 commercial acres of vines. China’s first geographically protected wine region, the Eastern Foot of Helan Mountain, is located in Ningxia.

The leading white grape varieties of Ningxia are Chardonnay, Italian Riesling, Riesling, and Vidal. Red grapes are more widely planted than white varieties and include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Pinot Noir (among others).

The tasting portion of the session began with Kanaan Winery Riesling 2013 and Legacy Peak Chardonnay 2014. From there, the tasting focused on red varieties beginning with Sha-Po-Tou Winery’s Cabernet Gernischt 2013, Domaine Pushance Marselan 2014, and Chateau Zhihui Yuanshi “Son of Mountain” Cabernet Sauvignon 2011. For more information on the Ningxia wine region and the wines tasting at the session, click here to download the: wines-of-ningxia-china-presented-by-hougton-lee-and-tommy-lam

We will be posting additional conference recaps in the next few days. In addition, we are building our permanent archive of notes from the 2016 SWE Conference-click here! If you are a conference speaker who would like to share your materials, please contact Jane A. Nickles at jnickles@societyofwineeducators.org

 

2016 Conference Recaps: Italy Focus

SWE’s 40th Annual Conference, held in August of 2016 at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington DC, had some amazing sessions on Italy!

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Diamonds in the Rough: The Many Faces of Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco was presented by Alan Tardi. Alan began his session by acknowledging that Prosecco has recently skyrocketed to international fame, becoming (by some counts) the world’s most popular sparkling wine. But while everyone knows Prosecco, and people all over the world enjoy a Bellini or a Spritz…very few people know what Prosecco really is.

2009 was a decisive year for Prosecco. By this time they wine was well known throughout the world and growing rapidly in popularity, but there was some confusion, as the name was not officially recognized outside of Italy and was not legally tied to its specific area of origin, which left it wide open to counterfeit and abuse.  As such, three things occurred in 2009: the new Prosecco DOC was created, the classic Prosecco territory of Conegliano Valdobbiadene was upgraded to DOCG status, and the name of the principal grape variety—Prosecco—was changed to Glera (an historical synonym) so the well-known name could be specifically applied to the region.

The tasting portion of the session included an interesting range of wines produced within the Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco area—including still (tranquillo) wines such as Bortolomiol Valdobbiadene Prosecco DOCG “Canto Fermo” Tranquillo 2015, a Gregoletto 100% Verdiso (produced under the Colli Trevigiani IGT), and the parcel-specific “Particella 68” Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG 2015 Brut from Sorelle Bronca. For more information on the session and the wines, click here to download the slide show: diamonds-in-the-rough-the-many-faces-of-prosecco-docg-presented-by-alan-tardi

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Liguria—Italy’s Unsung Region was presented by Susannah Gold, CSS, CSW:   Have you heard of Liguria? It is a very narrow strip of land between the Ligurian Sea, the Alps and the Apennines—bordered by France to the west, Piedmont to the north, and Emilia-Romagna and Tuscany to the east. Perhaps its best-known feature is the Cinque Terre.

Being so close to the sea, as you can imagine the area has an overall mild climate, although some spots experience abundant rain and harsh winter winds.  White grapes rule the region, with Vermentino, Bosco, Albarola, Pigato, and Bianchetta Genovese among the leading (and quite interesting) grapes of the region. Some reds are also produced, featuring (among others) the Ciliegiolo, Granaccia (aka Grenache), Ormeasco, and Rossese di Dolceacqua varieties.

Liguria has eight DOCs (one shared with Tuscany) and you can download a pdf of the rules, regulations, and main wine styles of each of these areas here: liguria-disciplinare. For more information on Liguria her wines, as well as details of the wines tasted during Susannah’s session, click here to download the liguria-italys-unsung-region-presented-by-susannah-gold-css-csw.

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Super Tuscany was presented by Paul Poux, CSW: In this interactive session, Paul Poux introduced us to a range of wines from Tuscany that included not just “Super Tuscans” but a variety of other Tuscan wines and regions that are new or reinvented.

These wines included an IGT Trebbiano from Capezzana Winery (better known for Carmignano). This was a delightful white wine described by Paul as having aromas of “almonds, yellow flowers of the field, and vanilla.” Next up was a Chianti— Melini Chianti 2013—packaged in an old-fashioned, wicker-enclosed bottle that attendees learned was known as a “fiasco.”

After a discussion on how the world-wide reputation of Chianti fell (for a short time) into quite a funk, the audience relished several of the finest examples of Chianti available, including Chianti Classico, a Chianti Classico Riserva, and a few samples of the “newest” designation of Chianti, the Chianti Classico Gran Selezione.

Following the Chiantis, several of Tuscany’s other well-known reds were presented, including Tignanello 2011 (Toscana IGT), Carmignano, Brunello di Montalcino, and Morellino di Scansano. The class ended on a high note with a sampling of two true Super Tuscans, including Ca’Marcanda Bolgheri 2011and Bolgheri Sassicaia 2011. For more information on Paul’s session, click here to download the slides: super-tuscany-presented-by-paul-poux-csw

We will be posting additional conference recaps in the next few days. In addition, we are building our permanent archive of notes from the 2016 SWE Conference-click here! If you are a conference speaker who would like to share your materials, please contact Jane A. Nickles at jnickles@societyofwineeducators.org

2016 Conference Recaps: Saturday Morning

The following sessions were enjoyed by all on Saturday morning, August 13, 2016 as part of SWE’s 40th Annual Conference, held at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington DC!

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Get Your Teutonic On, presented by Hoke Harden, CSW, CSE: The beginnings of the word Teutonic, as well as the people described by the word may be a bit hazy, but the term is used today to refer to the culture surrounding Germany and central Europe–particularly those that speak German. This covers a wide range of fascinating spirits, beers, and wines–many of which were enjoyed by the attendees of this session!

The tastings began with a unique wine known a Punkt Genau. Punkt Genau is a sparkling Grüner Veltiner from the Weinviertel region of Austria—delicious. This was followed by Stiegl Radler, an Austria beer-fruit juice concoction produced in Salzburg. Other fascinating wines in the line-up included Tramin Lagrein from Italy’s Alto Adige, Markowitsch Rosé from Austria’s Carnuntum region, and Schoffit Chasselas 2012 Vin d’Alsace.

The countries of central Europe are well-known for their spirits, as evidenced by a tasting of Blume Marillen Apricot Eau-de-Vie, Nux Alpina Walnut Liqueur, and Zirbenz–an Austrian product known as the “Stone Pine Liqueur of the Alps.” For more information on getting your Teutonic on, click here to download the slide show from the session: Get Your Teutonic On – presented by Hoke Harden, CSW, CSE

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Ancient Vines, Modern Wines, presented by Ed Korry, CSS, CWE: Greece is not only known for being the cradle of viticulture and winemaking, but it is currently the 16th largest wine-producing country in the world. A combination of culture, climate, and soils–including sand from the seas and volcanic soils on the islands–contributes to the high quality and diversity of the modern wines from Greece.

This session presented the 20 main grape varieties used in Greek wines, and offered up tastings based on wine region. The first wine tasted, from Peloponnese region, was Tselepos Amalia Brut, a delicious and unique sparkling wine produced from Moschofilero grapes. This was followed by Pepagiannakos Savatiano 2014. Savatiano is a thick-skinned white grape that is mainly known for its use in Retsina, but this wine from the Markopoulo PGI was crisp and clean. The next set of wines highlighted white grape varieties of Roditis, Malagousia, Robola, and Assyrtiko (from Santorini).

A set of red wines began with Skouras Grande Cuvée, a 100% Agiorgitiko produced from grapes grown in the Peloponnese and (more specifically) Nemea regions. This was followed by wine produced using the Limniona and Xinomavro grape varieties and a red blend from the Rapsani PDO. To wrap it up, a sweet Muscat-based wine, Samos Nectar was poured. To learn more about the wines of Greece and the wines poured during the seminar, download the session slide show here: Ancient Vines, Modern Wines-presented by Edward Korry, CWE, CSS

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A Current Overview of Virginia Wines, presented by Jay Youmans, MW: It all began in the 1600’s, when settlers in Jamestown hoped that the colony of Virginia would become a major source of wine for the British Empire. We all know that didn’t quite turn out as planned, despite the exemplary efforts of the third President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson, at his Monticello Estate.

Thing began to improve in the late 1800’s, and in 1873 the world began to take notice of Virginia wines when a Virginia Norton (Vitis aestivalis) wine was named the “Best Red Wine of All Nations” at the Vienna World’s Fair. Today, Virginia has seven AVAs, over 280 bonded wineries and is the 7th largest producer of vinifera grapes in the nation. The leading grape varieties include Chardonnay, Viognier, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Other notable vinifera grapes include Petit Manseng and Petit Verdot.

Starting with Thomas Jefferson, some famous people helped to shape the Virginia wine industry. Modern-day celebrities involved in Virginia wine include the very popular Dave Matthews (of the Dave Matthews band fame) and the inimitable Donald Trump (and family). Leading winemakers involved in the growth of Virginia wines include Giani Zonin (of Casa Vinicola Zonin in Italy’s Veneto)  who planted vineyards at Barboursville Vineyards in the 1970’s, and Dennis Horton (Of “Horton’s Norton” fame) who began his winemaking venture with a small home vineyard in Madison County, Virginia in 1983.

The wines tasted during the session included Michael Shaps 2014 Petit Manseng, Barboursville Vineyards 2015 Vermentino, Sunset Hills Petit Verdot and Keswick Vineyards 2014 Estate Cabernet Franc Reserve. For more information on the wines of Virginia, click here to download the slideshow from the session:A Current Overview of Virginia Wines-presented by Jay Youmans, CWE, MW

We will be posting additional conference recaps in the next few days. In addition, we are building our permanent archive of notes from the 2016 SWE Conference-click here! If you are a conference speaker who would like to share your materials, please contact Jane A. Nickles at jnickles@societyofwineeducators.org

2016 SWE Conference Recaps: Friday Evening

The following sessions were enjoyed by all on Friday evening, August 12, 2016 as part of SWE’s 40th Annual Conference, held at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington DC!

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Mexico: A “New” Exciting Wine Country, presented by Sandra Fernandez, CWE: Sandra’s session started with a discussion of the history of wine in Mexico, which dates back to 1200, when a type of wine was produced in the area from honey and fruit, and typically based on a red berry known as acahul. Starting in the 1500’s, vinifera vines were brought to Mexico from Spain and wine was produced in many parts of the colony then referred to as “Nueva España.” In August of 1597, the Hacienda San Lorenzo winery was founded, which is today known as Casa Madero and recognized as the oldest winery in the New World.

Fast forward to today, and Mexico has a blossoming wine industry with a total of 4,000 hectares (9,880 acres) of commercial vines, over 200 wineries, and 19.5 million liters of annual wine production.

The wine producers of modern day Mexico are spread out over eight wine regions, located mostly in the northern and central parts of the country. The leading wine region—by far—is Baja California, which surrounds the city of Ensenada. The Baja California region, located near the Pacific Coast, enjoys a Mediterranean climate and produces over 80% of Mexico’s wine. For more information on the wines of Mexico, click here to download the handout and slide show from the session:Mexico – a New and Exciting Wine Country – presented by Sandra Fernandeez

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Mindset and the Millennial Learner, presented by Sarah Malik, CSS, CWE, CWS, and Alistair Williams, PhD: Who are the Millennials? They were born in the 1980’s through the early 2000’s, are post-Baby Boomer and pre-Gen X. This means that they make up 100% of the 21–25 year old market, and they are responsible for 42% of the wine consumed in the US. In other words, they are an important market!

This session focused on how to create meaningful learning experiences for Millennials.  Some of the best practices include putting an emphasis on collaboration with others and sharing work assignments, using technology to enhance teaching, and facilitating critical thinking by using Wikis and blogs to enhance an inclusive learning assignment by allowing contribution and editing. For more ideas and information, download the session slide show here: Mindset and the Milennial Learner – presented by Sarah Malik and Alistair Williams

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Wine and Cheese, Cheese and Wine—do they make a Good Marriage? Presented by Ed Korry, CSS, CWE, and Sarah Hill: Wine and cheese are ageless companions—or so the mythology tells us! This session attempted to cut through the clichés of food and wine pairing (referred to in the session as “cacophony” – which makes sense to anyone who has ever studied the subject) and delve into the “how” and the “why” of why food and wine—and specifically cheese and wine—working well (or not working well) together.

Some of the tenants of the session included a true definition of flavor as a combination of taste, smell, tactile sensations, and chemesthesis (among other factors) and the realization that people have differing levels of sensitivity, perceptions, and even preferences to certain taste components and flavors.

In order to explore this subject via experimentation, six different wines representing six different styles of wine were poured alongside six different cheeses (representing the award-winning cheeses of Wisconsin). To wrap up the session, the “new rules” of food and wine pairing were discussed, which include “Cause and effect is real, but whether you like it or not is individualized.” For the rest of the “new rules” as well as details on the wines and cheeses presented at the session, click here to download the session PPT for: Wine and Cheese, Cheese and Wine – presented by Ed Korry and Sara Hill

We will be posting additional conference recaps in the next few days. In addition, we are building our permanent archive of notes from the 2016 SWE Conference-click here! If you are a conference speaker who would like to share your materials, please contact Jane A. Nickles at jnickles@societyofwineeducators.org

Welcome to the World, Champlain Valley of New York AVA!

Welcome to the World, Champlain Valley of New York AVA!

New York SWE Map 2016On Monday, August 22, 2016, the TTB published a final ruling establishing the Champlain Valley of New York AVA (American Viticultural Area). The new AVA will be effective as of September 21, 2016. The new AVA does not lie within or contain any previously established viticultural area.

In the original petition for the AVA, submitted in May of 2013 on behalf of the Lake Champlain Grape Growers Association, the area was described as “a long, narrow, relatively flat valley on the western shore of Lake Champlain.” The AVA is located in in Clinton and Essex Counties in New York State, near the Adirondack Mountains and the border with Vermont. The area within the AVA is approximately 82 miles long, and 20 miles wide at its northernmost and widest point (along the New York-Canadian border). The region narrows to approximately 5 miles wide at its southern edge. 

There are currently six bonded wineries (including Amazing Grace Vineyard & Winery, Elfs Farm Winery & Cider Mill, Stonehouse Vineyard, and Vesco Ridge Vineyards), 11 commercial vineyards, and just over 15 acres of commercial vines within the boundaries of the AVA. There are plans to establish 63 additional acres of vineyards in the near future.

The original proposal was noteworthy due to the fact that one of the arguments in support of the “distinguishing features” of the Champlain Valley of New York AVA is its short growing season and cold climate, both of which are conducive to growing cold-hardy North American hybrid grape varieties (such as Frontenac, La Crescent, and Marquette) but not necessarily grapes of the vinifera species.

With this new arrival, the total number of AVAs in the United States is now 237. For an updated copy of the SWE wine map of New York State, click here.

post authored by Jane A. Nickles…your blog administrator

The Wine Region Shuffle: Summer 2016 Updates

Here are a few recent updates to the ever-changing landscape of wine region rules and regulations!

Rosazzo Abbey (Abbazia di Rosazzo) in Friuli

Rosazzo Abbey (Abbazia di Rosazzo) in Friuli

The 334th DOC: In July of 2016, the Italian Ministry of Agriculture officially approved Italy’s 334th DOC: The Friuli DOC. This region has not yet been approved by the EU, but it is not believed that this should be merely a formality, and Italy has approved use of the term beginning with those wines released from the 2016 vintage. As we previously reported, the new DOC will cover the entire southern half of the Friuli–Venezia Giulia region (the northern half being rather mountainous and alpine and not generally suitable for viticulture).

The new Friuli DOC encompasses all of the area of the six previous DOCs of the region. The DOC will produce red, white, and sparkling wines from a range of grape varieties. Still while wines may be produced as a blend (Bianco) or labeled as one of the following varieties: Chardonnay, Friulano, Malvasia, Pinot Bianco, Pinot Grigio, Riesling (which may include Welschriesling), Sauvignon Blanc, Ribolla Gialla, Gewürztraminer (Traminer Aromatico) or Verduzzo Friulano.

Still red wines may also be produced as a blend (Rosso) or varietally-labeled as Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Nero (Pinot Noir), or Refosco dal Peduncolo. A red wine labeled as “Cabernet” will contain a minimum of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and/or Carmenère.

Sparkling (Spumante) wines may be produced using the Charmat or Metodo Classico production methods, and may be produced using any combination of Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Grigio, and/or Pinot Noir grapes. Unique to the Friuli DOC is the production of varietally-labeled sparkling wines (either Charmat of Metodo Classico) wines made using the Ribolla Gialla grape variety; this particular wine is not approved for production in any of the other DOCs of the region.

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Expansion of the Sta. Rita Hills AVA: On August 22, 2016, the TTB approved the expansion of the Sta. Rita Hills AVA by 2,296 acres (930 ha). The ruling becomes effective on September 21. The newly-approved area expands the original boundaries of the AVA on its eastern side. The move is summarized in the petition as follows: “the proposed expansion would move a portion of the AVA’s existing boundary further to the east, to a road within a north-to-south canyon, named “Cañada de los Palos Blancos,” located west of Buellton.”

The Sta. Rita Hills sits in the western portion of, and mostly within, the larger Santa Ynez Valley AVA (which is in turn part of California’s Central Coast AVA).  The Sta. Rita Hills AVA was originally approved in 2001 and, as many California wine lovers know, the name was shorted to “Sta. Rita Hills” from the original “Santa Rita Hills” in order to avoid a conflict with Viñas Santa Rita, an established producer of Chilean wines.

The expansion has been in the works since March of 2013 when the original petition was filed on behalf of the owners of Pence Ranch and John Sebastiano Vineyard, both of which are located within the new boundaries of the Sta. Rita Hills AVA. The main grapes grown in the area covered by the new AVA boundaries are Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. There is a small amount of Grenache and there are plans to plant Syrah in the near future.

The petition for the expansion was not without controversy, as evidenced by the large number of comments filed on the TTB’s docket; two comment periods were allowed which generated over a total of 118 comments. The controversy mainly centered on the climate of the expansion area. As Sta. Rita Hills is known as a cool climate region, it was argued that the areas to the east—and therefore further inland—did not share the same cooling influences. However, the TTB determined that the climatic differences were minimal. There were also arguments about differences in soil–you can read the very interesting comments for yourself on the TTB Docket.

Read the press release here: TTB expands the Sta. Rita Hills AVA

post authored by Jane A. Nickles…your blog administrator

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2016 SWE Conference Recaps: Tasting Focus

SWE’s 40th Annual Conference included some serious, advanced tasting classes led by some of the most renowned wine experts in the world. Tim Gaiser, MS presented on “Cause and Effect and Objective Factors,” and Roger Bohmrich, MW presented “Minerality: Examining, Challenging, & Tasting its Meaning.” Both were among the high-rated session at the conference.

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Advanced Tasting Strategies: Cause and Effect and Objective Factors—presented by Tim Gaiser, MS. The first part of Tim’s session covered the “why” questions in the context of deductive tasting. In other words, what is it about this wine that makes it look, smell, and taste the way it does? This consideration can be very useful for a taster in learning about classic grapes/wine styles in tasting practice, and also exercises the critical thinking used in deductive tasting. Some examples of cause and effect include: primary colors (which are a result of grape variety, time spent in barrel, and/or oxidation); intensity of aroma (which may result from grape variety, climate, ripeness levels, structural elements such as high alcohol, malo-lactic fermentation, and/or oak usage); and body (which may result from alcohol or glycerin level and/or the level of dry extract in a wine). More information on cause and effect may be found on Tim’s blog post titled “Cause and Effect: The Why behind Deductive Tasting.”

Another topic covered in Tim’s presentation was the importance of trying to identify those factors in a wine that are measurable, or objective. Examples of objective factors include basic measurements such as the acid, alcohol, and tannin levels; and may also include aromatic terpenes, pyrazines or thiols; evidence of oak or signs of oxidation. For more information on objective factors, see Tim’s blog post titled “Tasting Strategies.”

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Minerality: Examining, Challenging, & Tasting its Meaning-presented by Roger Bohmrich, MS: Roger started his session with the very interesting fact that the term “minerality” has only recently been widely used as a descriptor for wine. As a matter of fact, the term is not included in Ann Noble’s Wine Aroma Wheel, was not mentioned in Emile Peynaud’s book The Taste of Wine, and did not appear in the Oxford Companion to Wine until the current (2015) edition.

The session went on to confirm the wide-spread belief that mineral-like aromas are not believed to be derived directly from minerals in the soil, and that soil minerals are not the same substance and mineral nutrients.

Along the way, however, the point of view of many “mineral believers” was also discussed, and some of the wines that these “believers” point to as examples were tasted. These included Domaine Patrick Baudouin Anjou “Effusion” 2014, Fritsch Grüner Veltliner “Steinberg” 2015, and Christian Moreau Père & Fils Chablis 2014, among others. Attendees were encourage to rate the wines based on their own perception on minerality—or not—in the glass. The last wine tasted, a Luigi Bosca Mendoza Malbec from 2013, was chosen specifically because it was unlikely to show minerality; a perception with which the great majority of the audience agreed.

In the end, it was concluded that there are two competing hypotheses of minerality in wine: one that holds the view that minerality in wine is a direct expression of minerals in the wine, and one that defines minerality as a complex sensory phenomenon with many causes and expressions. As a result of Roger’s extensive research, he has summarized that the factors that can lead to a mineral perception in wine may include high total acidity, presence of succinic acid, absence of “fruitiness,” presence of volatile thiols, trace elements and salts, as well as culture, psychology, and expectation. For more information, you may download the slide show here: Minerality-Examining, Challenging, and Tasting its Meaning-presented by Rober Bohmrich, MW

We will be posting additional conference recaps in the next few days. In addition, we are building our permanent archive of notes from the 2016 SWE Conference-click here! If you are a conference speaker who would like to share your materials, please contact Jane A. Nickles at jnickles@societyofwineeducators.org

2016 CWE Conference Recaps: Focus on Chile

At SWE’s 40th Annual Conference, held August 11-13, 2016 at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington DC, we were lucky to have some outstanding Chilean winemakers share their wines and their stories with us! Read on to learn about these two sessions, one which centered on the superstar–Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon, and another about the Syrah—Chile’s “Great Unknown”

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Syrah: Chile’s Great Unknown – presented by Felipe Tosso: Syrah is a successful grape in many parts of the world. The largest Syrah-producing countries in the world are (in this order) France, Australia, Spain, Argentina, South Africa, the United States, Italy, and Chile. Chile may be number 8 in the list, but at 15,000 planted acres, Syrah might be considered Chile’s greatest “unknown” grape variety!

Within Chile, the largest plantings of Syrah are located in the Colchagua Valley, Maule Valley and Maipo Valley. The Colchagua Valley has over 6,600 acres planted to Syrah. The Mediterranean climate in the Colchagua Valley, along with the deep, rocky soil of the area tends to produce Syrah-based wines with deep flavors and mineral complexity. As representatives of this style of wine, the Viñedos Emiliana “Coyam” 2012 (a blend of 39% Syrah, 32% Carmenère, 17% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Mourvèdre, and 1% Malbec) was poured along with a Montes Alpha Syrah from 2013. Another interesting wine Colchagua Valley wine known as Ventisquero Pangea 2011 was offered. This unfiltered, richly hued wine is produced using 90% Syrah, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 3% Viognier. Click here to download the slide show from the session: Syrah – Chile’s Great Unknown – presented by Felipe Tosso

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Chilean Cabernet Country – presented by Patrick Valette: This session started out with a discussion of the areas in Chile that are best-known for Cabernet Sauvignon. These include the wine areas of Curico, Maipo Valley, Cachapoal Valley, Colchagua Valley, and Maule Valley.

Of the wines from the Maipo Valley, many are grown in the high-elevation Alto Maipo, a cool-climate area with a blend of colluvial and alluvial soils featuring clay, sand, loam, and gravel. Several wines from this area were sampled, including Viña Santa Rita Medalla Real Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Viña Vetisquero Enclave Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, and Carmen Gold Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2009.

Located about 80 miles southwest of Santiago, the Colchagua Valley is another prime growing area for Cabernet Sauvignon. This area enjoys a nearly “picture perfect” Mediterranean climate, with alternating influences between the cool breezes off of the Pacific Ocean and the winds flowing down from the Andes Mountains. The Montes Alpha 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, grown in vineyard areas known for their granite soils, was a highlight of this part of the tasting.

Another area known for Cabernet is the Cachapoal Valley. This area is planted over 80% to red grapes, with Cabernet Sauvignon and Carmenère being the superstars.  A fascinating red blend, Viña VIK, grown in the Millahue subregion of the Cachapoal Valley, is produced form 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Carmenère, 7% Cabernet Franc, 5% Merlot and 4% Syrah was featured in this part of the session, and well-received by all! Click here to download the slide show from the session: Chilean Cabernet Country – presented by Patrick Valette

We will be posting additional conference recaps in the next few days. In addition, we are building our permanent archive of notes from the 2016 SWE Conference-click here! If you are a conference speaker who would like to share your materials, please contact Jane A. Nickles at jnickles@societyofwineeducators.org