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.

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/

Update—November 22, 2017: Of the 12 estates originally listed, only 9 passed the final quality control process and will be producing Cava de Paraja Calificado this year. The 9 estates are: Argicola Casa Sala, Alta Alella, Cordoníu, Gramona, Juvé Y Camps, Recardo, Sabaté i Coca, Torelló, and Vins el Cep. 

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:

 

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.

 

 

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:

Guest Post: Everything’s Coming up Rosés!

Photo credit: Linda Coco

Photo credit: Linda Coco

Today we have a book review from a guest blogger, Linda Coco. In honor of National Rosé Day (coming up soon on the second Saturday in June), Linda brings us a review of a new book on rosé wine by Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan, MW.

Rosé Wine—The Guide to Drinking Pink by Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan, MW.176 pages, published by Sterling Epicure (2017).

Everything’s coming up rosés!

Ahhh, spring has sprung and is hopscotching into summer. I love this time of year when all things are made new again, at least here in the northern hemisphere. Mother Nature dons a brand new wardrobe, draping herself in vibrant shades of green accessorized with colorful pops of flowers. I, too, eagerly pack away my winter drabs and delight in sporting sundresses, shorts and sandals.

After a long Montana winter, my palate is also ready for an overhaul. I start craving lighter fare and lighter wines, especially rosés which start debuting in May for May Day, Mother’s Day and the Kentucky Derby. While those thoroughbred derby horses compete in The Run for the Roses, I, in my quest to drink pink, Run for the Rosés!

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In this season of thinking pink, I am tickled pink to highlight a new book by Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan, a Master of Wine who just released her second publication, ROSÉ WINE: The Guide to Drinking Pink. This book debuts in perfect timing with rosé’s renewed popularity. There’s a pink revolution happening, and rosé is rising above its reputation for being sweet and seasonal. It’s also bounding over gender boundaries. Rosé earned a reputation as being a frilly, feminine wine reserved for females, but men now account for 45% of all rosé consumed in the United States. Shall we call it Brosé?

Simonetti-Bryan expounds upon this rosé revolution in the first chapter then goes on to explain the making of rosé and the tasting of rosé using the FIVE S’s: See, Swirl, Sniff, Sip and Savor.  As in her first book, The One Minute Wine Master, Jennifer includes a quiz to help identify styles of rosé that you are likely to enjoy based on a generalized assessment of your taste and scent preferences.

The next chapters are dedicated to the four different rosé styles: BLUSH, CRISP, FRUITY and RICH. Under each style section, Jennifer features wines made in that style accompanied by a photo of the bottle or label. Detailed tasting notes and information about the winery or winemaker are included. Over 70 rosés are highlighted from areas around the globe. From the palest pink to the deepest magenta, you’ll delight in seeing the world through rosé colored glasses, all the while vicariously traveling around the world in 80 rosés!

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The book concludes with a helpful resource section that contains a food pairing guide, a pronunciation guide and a quick reference wine checklist of all the wines featured, categorized per rosé style.

Punctuated with fun facts, lovely photos and helpful graphs, ROSÉ WINE: A Guide to Drinking Pink is a precise 176-page primer on pink. It’s especially suitable for those new to drinking rosé (or to those who heretofore have shunned it!). As a wine educator, I appreciate the approachable and friendly tone in which it is written.

Bravo to Jennifer-Simonetti-Bryan, the passionate promoter of pink! Let’s raise our pink drinks and clink our glasses of rosé together in celebratory cheers!

Linda rose photo by lindaLinda Coco, CSW is a “Roads Scholar” with a passion for road-tripping across the great state of Montana and beyond, learning all she can about the people and places she explores. When not behind the wheel, she enjoys cooking, writing, and hosting wine tastings for her vivacious group of oenophile friends, “The Wining Women of Whitefish”. She’s a self-proclaimed “edutainer”, aiming to entertain while educating, because learning about wine ought to be fun! Share in the fun at her blog, “It’s a WINEderful Life”, https://lilianacabana.wordpress.com.

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.