Feed aggregator

Louis Roederer Acquires Merry Edwards Winery

Wine Enthusiast - 2 hours 30 min ago

French firm Maison Louis Roederer purchased one of the most prominent California Pinot Noir producers, Merry Edwards Winery, for an undisclosed sum.

The deal, which closed February 22, 2019, includes the Russian River Valley winery facility, its brands, estate vineyards and inventory.

While Louis Roederer began expanding outside Champagne in 1982 with Roederer Estate in California’s Anderson Valley, this is the company’s first move into higher-priced Sonoma County.

Winery founder Merry Edwards said the sale puts her legacy as a winemaker and winery owner in good hands. Producing 28,000 cases annually and with almost universal rave reviews for her wines, Edwards and husband, Ken Coopersmith, built one of California’s most successful Pinot Noir programs since the winery’s founding in 1997 in Sebastopol, California.

Part of the winery’s attractiveness is its strong direct-to-consumer program, which accounts for 52% of its sales that overall average $54 a bottle, according to Wines Vines Analytics. Merry Edwards is known primarily for Pinot Noir from single vineyards in the Russian River Valley, but also makes a popular Sauvignon Blanc and a small amount of Chardonnay. Ten of the winery’s 2016 Pinot Noirs rated between 90-95 points in Wine Enthusiast blind tastings.

Frédéric Rouzaud is president of the family-owned Roederer firm, possibly best known for its prestige cuvée Champagne, Roederer Cristal. He described the purchase as a love story fueled by admiration for Edwards as an entrepreneur and winemaker, and for the vineyard terroirs from which she makes her wines.

Xavier Barlier, Roederer’s U.S. spokesman, said the transaction includes 79 acres of owned and farmed vineyards, such as the Coopersmith vineyard where the winery is situated, the Maefield Guest House and Barn in the middle of Maefield vineyard and Meredith Estate vineyard.

In addition, long-term-leased properties such as the Georganne vineyard will be included along with Edwards and Coopersmith’s new home vineyard, Richaven.

Roederer planned no immediate changes, Barlier said. Merry Edwards will remain the general manager for the 2019 harvest, and her winemaker, Heidi von der Mehden, will also stay on, he said.

The winery’s avid wine club members were told there would be no change in their benefits, purchase opportunities or wine release dates. Edwards worked with International Wine Associates in making the sale.

Edwards is among California’s first women winemakers, having earned a master’s degree in food science with an emphasis in enology in 1973 from the University of California, Davis. She became the winemaker at Mount Eden Vineyards in 1974 and later helped build the winery and make wine for Matanzas Creek. Edwards made wine for her own Merry Vintners label and was winemaker for Laurier Winery.

She began to acquire land in the Russian River Valley in 1996, launched Merry Edwards wines the next year and eventually completed the Merry Edwards winery facility for the 2007 harvest.

Since 1990, Roeder has acquired other family-owned wineries including Ramos Pinto in Portugal (1990), Champagne Deutz in Champagne and Delas Frères in the France’s Rhône Valley (1993), Château de Pez in Bordeaux (1995), Domaines Ott in the South of France (2004), Scharffenberger Cellars in Mendocino County (2004) and Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande in Pauillac, Bordeaux (2007). In addition to sparkling wine producer Roederer Estate in Mendocino’s Anderson Valley, Roederer also launched Domaine Anderson there to make still wines in 2012.

The Best Wine Vintages to Drink in 2019

Wine Enthusiast - 4 hours 35 min ago

It can feel like a bit of a guessing game, trying to decide whether a wine vintage is in its peak drinking window, needs to be aged longer or is past its prime. Well, guess no further. Here is your cheat sheet to which vintages from wine regions around the world are currently at their best. Keep it handy to reference next time you’re deciding whether to pull a bottle from your cellar or are just looking for the best year’s bottle to buy in your local wine shop.

Interested in learning more? View our full 2019 Wine Vintage Chart for a glimpse at which vintages are worth cellaring longer and what bottles might be worth dumping down the drain.

*: Indicates highest rated vintage(s) of years currently in their peak drinking window by our review panel.

Jump Straight to a Region United States | France | Italy | Spain | Germany | Portugal | Austria | Australia | New Zealand | South Africa | Chile | Argentina

Rows of vineyard vines at sunrise in Sonoma County, California / Getty

United States California Napa Valley

Napa Chardonnay: 2011*, 2012

Napa Cabernet Sauvignon: 2006, 2007*, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012*

Napa Zinfandel: 2010, 2011, 2012*

Russian River Valley

Russian River Valley Chardonnay: 2010, 2011, 2012*

Russian River Valley Pinot Noir: 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012*

Sonoma

Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon: 2010, 2011, 2012*

Sonoma Pinot Noir: 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012*

Sonoma Zinfandel: 2010, 2011, 2012*

Carneros

Carneros Chardonnay: 2012, 2013*

Carneros Pinot Noir: 2012*

Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara Chardonnay: 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012*, 2013*, 2014*

Santa Barbara Pinot Noir: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012*, 2013

Central Coast

Central Coast Chardonnay: 2010, 2011, 2012*, 2013*, 2014*

Central Coast Pinot Noir: 2008, 2009, 2010*, 2011, 2012, 2013

Central Coast Syrah: 2010*, 2011, 2012*

Other California

Anderson Valley Pinot Noir: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011

North Coast Syrah: 2010, 2011*

South Coast Syrah: 2012*, 2013*, 2014*

Paso Robles Zinfandel: 2011, 2012*

Sierra Foothills Zinfandel: 2009, 2010*, 2011

Oregon

Willamette Valley Pinot Noir: 2006*, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011

Willamette Valley Whites: 2012, 2013*

Southern Oregon Reds: 2011*, 2012*, 2013

Washington

Columbia Valley Cabernet, Merlot: 2006, 2007*, 2008, 2009

Columbia Valley Syrah: 2008, 2009*, 2010, 2011*

Columbia Valley Whites: 2012*, 2014, 2015, 2016

New York

Finger Lakes Reds: 2010, 2012*, 2013, 2014

Finger Lakes Whites: 2010*, 2012*, 2013, 2014, 2015*

Long Island Reds: 2010*, 2012*, 2013*, 2014

Long Island Whites: 2014*, 2015*

Vineyard and farmhouse in Bordeaux, France / Getty Europe Grapes on the vine in Bolgheri, Tuscany Italy Piedmont

Barbaresco: 1993, 1995, 1996*, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2004*, 2005, 2007, 2009

Barolo: 1993, 1995, 1997, 1998*

Veneto

Amarone: 1997*, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003

Soave Classico/Lugana: 2008, 2009*, 2010*, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2017

Tuscany

Bolgheri: 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001*, 2003, 2004, 2007

Chianti Classico: 1999*, 2000, 2001, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009

Brunello di Montalcino: 1997*, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001

Maremma: 2004*, 2005, 2006, 2014

Marche

Verdicchio: 2012*, 2014, 2015, 2017

Conero/Rosso Piceno: 2008, 2009, 2010*

The Official 2019 Wine Vintage Chart Campania

Campania Reds: 2001, 2004, 2005*

Campania Whites: 2012*, 2014, 2015, 2017

Sicily

Sicily Reds: 2005*, 2006

Sicily Whites: 2008, 2009*

Other Italy

Abruzzo Reds: 2004, 2005, 2006*, 2014

Basilicata Aglianico del Vulture: 2004, 2005*, 2014

Collio-Friuli Whites: 2012*, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017

Lombardy Franciacorta: 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009*, 2010, 2011, 2012

Puglia Reds: 2008, 2009*, 2010*, 2014

Sardinia Reds: 2008, 2009*

Trentino-Alto Adige Whites: 2013, 2014, 2015*, 2017

Umbria Reds: 2005, 2006*

The village and fields of Briones, La Rioja, Spain

Spain

Catalonia Reds: 2010*, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

Rioja Reds: 2001, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010*, 2011, 2014

Ribera del Duero Reds: 2001, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2009, 2010*, 2011

Galicia Whites: 2016*, 2017

Germany

Mosel Whites: 2004, 2005*, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010

Rhine Region Wines: 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007*, 2008, 2009, 2010

Franken Whites: 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007*, 2008, 2009, 2010

Terraced vineyards by the Douro River, Portugal / Getty

Portugal

Port: 1992, 1994*, 1995, 1997, 2000, 2006

Red Table Wines: 1997*, 1998, 2000, 2003*, 2005, 2008

White Table Wines: 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013*, 2014*

Austria

Danube Region Whites: 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2011*, 2012*

Burgenland Reds: 2008, 2009*, 2012

Burgenland Sweet Wines:  2005*, 2006, 2008

The vineyards of Western Australia / Getty Southern Hemisphere Organic vineyards and the Andes near Mendoza, Argentina / Getty Chile

Maipo Reds: 2011, 2012, 2013*, 2014, 2015*

Casablanca/Coastal Whites: 2017*

Colchagua Reds: 2011*, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015*

Argentina

Argentina/Mendoza Reds: 2013*, 2014

Target Launches New Line of $10 Wines

Wine Enthusiast - 7 hours 51 min ago

Retail behemoth Target will launch of a new line of wines priced under $10, the company announced yesterday. Called The Collection, the new brand will join Target’s current wine offerings, including California Roots, its budget line of wines priced in the $5 range that launched in 2017, as well as its Wine Cube category of boxed wines. The Collection will be available beginning March 3, 2019.

At launch, the new line, aimed at more upmarket consumers than Target’s existing lower-cost options, will be comprise of five bottlings: Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, rosé and a red blend. The wines will be produced by Delicato Family Vineyards, a California fixture who have been producing wines for nearly a century, and own properties in Napa, Sonoma, Lodi and Monterey counties.

The producer is known for its wealth of brands aimed at the $8–12 range. Target’s previous offerings have been produced by California’s Trinchero Family Estates.

The move demonstrates an increasing trend of wine growth in the big box retail market. Previously, Trader Joe’s made waves with its famously successful Charles Shaw brand of budget wines, while Costco has continued to dominate the wine retail industry with its Kirkland Signature line, which brought in more than $39 billion in sales in 2018.

Why Stock-the-Bar Parties Are the Next Big Wedding Trend

Wine Enthusiast - 8 hours 32 min ago

Millennials are getting married significantly later than their parental counterparts. According to the Census Bureau, the new average age to say “I do” for women is 27.8 and 29.8 years of age for men. In 1968, those numbers were 21 and 23, respectively. So, it’s only natural than that how couples celebrate marriage also changed.

In lieu of traditional wedding showers, Stock-the-Bar parties are becoming the new status quo. After all, these couples likely already have a toaster and coffeemaker by the time they’re walking down the aisle.

So, what exactly is a Stock-the-Bar Party? Rather than registering for items the couple may already own or don’t want, they can register for their home bar and wine collection. Wouldn’t you rather receive a bottle of bubbly than a gravy boat? This explosive trend has led to sites like ThirstyNest, the first wine and spirits registry for the modern couple. How else would a young couple start to set up their new wave gift list? Here’s what to add to yours.

Image by Sanaz Riggio Wine

Wine lovers should start with a mix of both special ageworthy wines and casual options. For your ageable wine collection, three bottles to a full case (12 bottles) is a good amount for starting a home cellar. They can be stored in a small to moderate wine fridge for safekeeping or in a cool, dark place in a home. Some favorites are the Louis Roederer 2008 Cristal Champagne for a one-year anniversary or Robert Mondavi 2013 Reserve To Kalon Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon for a five-year anniversary.

As for everyday wines, it’s all about whatever the couple likes, which is what makes a registry such a great tool. It allows the lovebirds to make their selection personal. Workhorse wines that pair with different dishes and occasions include dry rosés like Belle Glos 2017 Sonoma Pinot Noir Blanc. It’s just as fitting for a trip to the beach as it is with a holiday meal. Additionally, some cool-climate Oregon Pinot Noir, like the Sokol Blosser 2016 Dundee Hills Estate Pinot Noir, can be enjoyed with lean meat dishes or even a hearty vegetarian meal.

Image by Sanaz Riggio Spirits

On the spirits side, as with anything wedding related, it really depends on the couple’s personal taste. A good mix of cocktail essentials and some dram-worthy brown spirits tend to be well received by anyone looking to expand their home bar. On the cocktail end, a great vodka, gin, whiskey and Tequila, along with your stirring mixers such as vermouths and Campari are a good place to start. For those who like to sip spirits neat, make sure to include at least one fantastic Bourbon, like Bulleit, and a classic, smoky single malt Scotch, such as the Oban 14-year, to your list.

Image by Sanaz Riggio Drinkware

As for the serving tools, absolute must-have pieces are a great set of wine glasses, a wine opener and some cocktail tools. This 16-piece wine glass set is gorgeous and comes with a 10-year warranty. Also, personalized wine openers and decanters, along with a good set of cocktail tools and glasses, will always come in handy.

Image by Sanaz Riggio Storage

Lastly, a place to put all of these amazing gifts! For wine, there are a variety of wine fridges and racks available that range in size to fit a collection from six to 300 bottles. A good place to start would be in the 32-bottle range for post-nuptial storage with a little room to grow. For spirits and tools, bar carts are especially fabulous and there are even ones that work for a small-space living.

Hosting a Stock-the-Bar Party is the perfect solution for today’s couple. They can level up on their ability to entertain while creating new experiences with friends and family. Don’t worry: setting up the registry will be almost as fun as enjoying your gifts with ThirstyNest.

Feel free to reach out with any questions to help you get started at hello@thirstynest.com.

You, Must: Spend the Night in a Wine-Barrel Hotel Room! (Wine Spectator)

Wine Spectator Headlines - February 21, 2019 - 3:00pm

Some of us love wine so much, we dream about swimming around in a barrel full of the stuff. And while that fantasy is highly unsanitary and probably a little dangerous (try a bathtub instead), certain wine-minded holiday-spot proprietors are offering an alternative that's just as immersive: wine-barrel hotel rooms.

The travel trend has been popping up around the world: In the village of Cambres, in Portugal's Douro Valley, Quinta da Pacheca winery added 10 giant wine barrels to its on-premises lodging offerings in 2017. Each barrel room is outfitted with a double bed, a full bathroom, and a private terrace, and plopped among the quinta's vines. "They are a real success in the high but also in the low season," Ricardo Rebelo, a staff member at the hotel told Unfiltered. "At this time we are already receiving bookings for 2020."

Courtesy of Quinta da Pacheca, De Vrouwe van Stavoren, Cava Colchagua and Alde Gott

In the small village of Sasbachwalden in Germany's Baden region, visitors to the Alde Gott winery can experience Schlafen im Weinfass (that's German for "Sleeping in Wine Barrel"), featuring eight 8,000-liter barrels, each with a charming vinous address, such as "Rieslingplatz" ("Riesling Place") and "Burgunderplatz." A one-night-aged experience for two includes two bottles of wine and breakfast, plus views overlooking the Rhine Valley, though bookings for 2019 are already almost topped up here as well.

You don't even need to be at a winery to get a turn in the barrel. At Hotel de Vrouwe van Stavoren in the Netherlands, guests can stay in one of the 12 novelty wine-barrel rooms that were shipped to the property from Switzerland. There are two different barrel room sizes—the smaller is 15,000 liters—and one of the larger barrels serves as a "wellness suite" for two, which could hold 23,000 liters of wine but instead has a couch, a Jacuzzi and a steam room.

And it's not just a Euro-centric trend. Chile's Cava Colchagua is an all–wine barrel hotel, created by the Ravanal wine family using barrels that actually once held early vintages of their wine. With more than 12 acres of land, the property includes eight two-story barrels, a spa, a pool and a lagoon.

"Rooms" at all four human cooperages start at around a reasonable $200, so if you're looking for hospitality sur lie, you won't find yourself over a … well, you get the idea.

If You Love Cheese so Much, You Should Marry (with) It, Says Costco's Cheese-Wheel Wedding Cake

If you're a Stilton who's found your life Port-ner, Costco has you covered for the wedding—with a five-tier all-cheese wedding "cake." Last May, just in time for wedding season, the warehouse club partnered with specialty produce and foods store Sid Wainer & Son to launch its Cheese Lover Artisan Wedding Cake, a union of sweet cheddar, Danish blue cheese, Spanish goat cheese, Tuscan sheep's cheese and French brie. Couples looking to walk down the aisles both marital and dairy can get a cake on Costco's website for $440 and plan on it serving up to 150 wedding guests (for cocktail hour? Dessert? All night? With charcuterie? Yes.). "The reception has been incredible," Jamie Wainer of Sid Wainer & Son told Unfiltered, pun possibly intended. "This idea has really appealed to brides looking for that 'wow' factor at their wedding."

Courtesy of Sid Wainer & Son A match made in Edam

Since the cheese wheels are shipped undecorated, said brides (and grooms) can choose to add flowers, ribbons, edible garnishes or what have you to take the "wow" to the next level, but many have expressed an interest in a more traditional look for their nontraditional wedding non-cakes: "Now that brides have shown an eager interest, we are working to bring all-white-cheese cakes to the site as well," said Wainer. And worry not about the wine: Bubbly still makes a perfect pairing for a cheesy wedding cake.

JNSQ Wine Makes a Dressy Debut at Rodarte Show with Diane Keaton and Brie Larson

The fashion world runs on wine: Just last week, haute couture and Haut-Brion teamed up to raise money in the fight against AIDS, and another style icon in the news—Karl Lagerfeld, who died this week—dabbled in Bordeaux chic himself a few years ago, designing the label for Château Rauzan-Ségla's 2009 vintage. Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for JNSQ Wines Model Rocky Barnes (left) and actor Jessie Ennis pose with rosé.

The latest wine with designs on designers is a California belle, though: The new JNSQ, a Central Coast rosé and Sauvignon Blanc dressed up in a bespoke bottle meant to evoke a vintage perfume atomizer, made its debut this month at the Rodarte Fall/Winter 2019 runway show. Rodarte founders Kate and Laura Mulleavy designed mesh "garments" for the bottles, tied at the neck with a rose, for the event's celebrity attendees, including known enophile Diane Keaton, Marisa Tomei, Brie Larson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Dakota Fanning and Shailene Woodley.

"JNSQ shared the runway with some of the entertainment and fashion industries’ most influential icons, which made for an exciting initial unveiling," Clarence Chia, VP of marketing and e-commerce for the wine's parent company, told Unfiltered via email. "JNSQ has plans to break into the wedding and bridal space ... The one-of-a-kind bottle has already become a keepsake to many, and we anticipate it quickly becoming the perfect celebratory gift or addition to any bridal tablescape." (Right there next to the wedding cheese-wheel cake, of course.)

They're reusable, too: The bottles have resealable glass stoppers. The Wonderful Company that developed the brand (also the parent company of Paso Robles' Justin winery) suggests repurposing them as an olive-oil vessel or a vase for flowers, or perhaps a wine-themed home for your goldfish, to decorate the wine barrel you live in.

Enjoy Unfiltered? The best of Unfiltered's round-up of drinks in pop culture can now be delivered straight to your inbox every other week! Sign up now to receive the Unfiltered e-mail newsletter, featuring the latest scoop on how wine intersects with film, TV, music, sports, politics and more.

A Wine Lover’s Guide to Charleston, South Carolina

Wine Enthusiast - February 21, 2019 - 1:40pm

Charleston’s charms, and a much-heralded dining scene, aren’t lost on its almost seven million annual visitors, which make the South Carolina city among the country’s top tourist destinations. Less known is that it’s become one of America’s best wine cities as well.

Pioneering wine-savvy restaurants like Charleston Grill, FIG, McCrady’s, Husk, The Ordinary, Leon’s Oyster Shop and Zero Restaurant & Bar have attracted and spawned a huge pool of talent. The city’s also seen an influx of hospitality professionals drawn by the region’s quality of life. Wine importers and distributors have also made the city a priority.

“Since Charleston is such an established culinary destination, it makes sense that the people living and visiting here would want the next progression in beverages as well,” says Miles White of Graft Wine Shop. “Cocktail bars and breweries paved the way, and now the wine scene is rounding out the trifecta.

“People often say that Charleston has big-market amenities with a small-town feel, and it’s finally getting there with wine.”

Inside Graft Wine Shop / Photo by Olivia Rae James Wine Shops and Wine Bars Wine & Company

South Carolina allows on-site alcohol consumption at licensed retail establishments, which enables Wine & Company to double as a shop and a wine bar. Its bottles can be enjoyed at the large wraparound bar or taken to go at a $10 discount. If you don’t want a bottle off the shelf, the store offers 36 glass pours, along with creative cheese and charcuterie plates. There are themed Wine Tasting Tuesdays, frequent winemaker visits and, as a bonus, the barstools are the coziest in town.

“Charleston is a sophisticated and open-minded market for its size,” says owner Josh Walker. “We actually sell more orange wine than oaky Chardonnay, though we’re happy to offer that, too.” Ask for The List, a leather book with hundreds of rare one-off bottles, many priced well below retail. Recent sightings include ’66 Château d’Yquem and ’62 Pétrus.

Graft Wine Shop

Graft is also a combo retail shop/wine bar where bottles are priced at retail and a nominal corkage fee is charged to enjoy in-house. White and co-owner Femi Oyediran, a 2018 Wine Enthusiast 40 Under 40 honoree, opened Graft in March 2018 as a place to share the wines they love in an unintimidating environment. The relaxed vibe makes it a great place to taste wines that can be hard to find in other cities.

“Femi and I just want everyone to be comfortable and communal,” says White. “We have people drinking Grand Cru Burgundy rubbing elbows with people drinking skin-contact whites from Slovenia, and it’s really rewarding.”

Photo courtesy of Monarch Wine Merchants Monarch Wine Merchants

“Charleston has gone through an enormous amount of growth and immigration since my arrival in 2013, and the wine scene is a direct reflection of that,” says Justin Coleman, owner of Monarch Wine Merchants. “The variety of wine now available in Charleston is 10 times what it was then.”

Monarch focuses on small and cult producers, Old World icons and rare and back-vintage bottles. The unpretentious neighborhood spot also has a back room for winemaker tastings, seminars and private sommelier-led events. Coleman says that many people from larger cities stock up on wines that are long gone from their hometown shelves.

“It’s a credit to the distributors and importers who have been able to get so many hard-to-find, allocated, boundary-pushing wines to such a small market,” says Coleman. “Someone from NYC or San Francisco can actually get their hands on l’Anglore, Roulot, Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey and more. ”

Photo courtesy of Stems & Skins Stems & Skins

Many credit this North Charleston wine bar as the genesis of the city’s current wine scene, when it opened in 2016. Owners Justin Croxall and Matt Tunstall, a former wine director at Husk, focus on natural wine, with a full bar and cocktail program as well.

More than a dozen premium pours are available by the glass via Coravin, in addition to a bottle list with almost 200 labels. A small food menu includes a lengthy list of tinned seafood, from trout pâté with Port to razor clams and sea urchin. Stems & Skins remains as popular and influential as ever.

Edmund’s Oast Exchange

The Exchange is the retail arm of Edmund’s Oast, a popular restaurant that serves globally influenced Southern fare. The restaurant’s general manager/wine director, Sarah O’Kelley, stocks hundreds of selections.

Look for the daily 3@3 happy hour with $3 half-pours from 3–4:30 pm, wine tastings on Thursdays to benefit local charities, a happy hour that features Champagne and live jazz on Fridays, while themed Somm School classes are held on Saturdays. Each Wednesday, it becomes a wine bar with $15 blind flights of three wines. No corkage is charged on bottles bought at the shop.

The mirrored bar at Tradd’s / Photo by Margaret Wright Restaurants With Great Wine Lists
Tradd’s

This space, formerly home to the iconic fine-dining restaurant Cypress, has been reborn as a bright, airy modern American restaurant with a buzzy lounge and cozy Champagne bar.

Executive Chef Brandon Buck helms the menu, with dishes like halibut with carrot flan and English peas, and roast duck with turnips and housemade spaetzle. Caviar, which includes selections from North Carolina’s Marshallberg Farm, is sold at near-retail prices, a no-brainer when paired with the extensive Champagne list. There are more than 30 by-the-glass pours that include several sparkling and reserve selections.

Boquerones / Photo courtesy of Renzo Renzo

Renzo is a casual wood-fired pizza joint that might be the hottest place in Charleston. It boasts one of the city’s only all-natural wine lists, curated by co-owner Nayda Freire. The pizzas and pastas are fantastic, but don’t pass on the rest of the menu. It features such dishes as swordfish Milanese, roasted radishes with preserved lemon and an addictive crispy eggplant with XO sauce. A late-afternoon happy hour offers a Detroit-style square slice of pizza and a glass of wine for $10, and Saturday brunch is among Charleston’s best.

Ask if there are any off-menu wines by the glass or bottle, as the restaurant often gets very small quantities of specialty wines that aren’t included on the list.

Part of the wine list at Joséphine / Photo by Lindsey Shorter Joséphine Wine Bar

Joséphine has the cheery atmosphere of a wine bar, but with serious gastronomic appeal. Executive Chef Shaun Connolly’s refined comfort food not only complements the wine list, but sometimes uses it, as evidenced by Sherry-roasted beets with pickled blueberries and pistachio vinaigrette, and handcut pappardelle with wine-braised short ribs ragù.

The restaurant’s name is an homage to Napoleon’s wife and noted wine collector, Joséphine de Beauharnais. Accordingly, the wine list skews French. It’s one of the most popular additions to the hopping Cannonborough-Elliotborough neighborhood.

Travel Charleston, South Carolina, Like a Bartender Out and About Drinking Destinations Deep Water Vineyard

On Wadmalaw Island, about 30 minutes southwest of downtown Charleston, Deep Water is one of the Lowcountry’s only wineries, as most are located in the northern part of the state. Deep Water grows only the Muscadine grape, or Vitis rotundifolia. It flourishes in the region’s hot, humid climate that wouldn’t suit other wine grapes.

Deep Water makes both white and red wine from four Muscadine cultivars, as well as wines from California grapes. The winery’s 48 acres are a great place to spend a sunny afternoon. Visitors are allowed to roam the grounds freely, and they’re encouraged to picnic.

Wine Down Wednesday in West Ashley

Held eight times from the end of March through October, the Charleston County Parks sponsors this after-work wine party in Old Towne Creek County Park, just across the Ashley River from historic downtown Charleston. Drinking in parks, or any public space, is otherwise illegal in Charleston, so it’s a great opportunity to enjoy the area’s area’s natural beauty and live music with a drink in hand.

Constellation Brands to Discontinue 40% of Wine & Spirits Portfolio

Wine Enthusiast - February 21, 2019 - 11:53am

This week at the Consumer Analyst Group of New York (CAGNY) Conference, Constellation Brands said that they expected to sell or discontinue up to 40% of their wine and spirits portfolio. Bill Newlands, president and COO, looked to reassure investors that the “best is yet to come.”

“We are in the process of optimizing the wine and spirits business with mid-single-digit growth rates and 30%-plus operating margins,” said Newlands, who will succeed Rob Sands as CEO on March 1, 2019.

“We expect to deliver at least $4.5 billion in returns via dividends and shareholder buyback over the next three years,” he added.

Some 60% of the portfolio’s profit is driven by so-called “power brands,” which are wines that sell for more than $11 per bottle at retail.

“So everything that is not a ‘power brand,’ you can assume that we’re either going to sell it, discontinue it, or milk it very quickly over the next year or so,” said David Klein, Constellation’s chief financial officer.

The Brands that are Safe

The only brand in Constellation’s portfolio under $11 that is safe from getting cut is Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi, which is the company’s largest-selling brand, according to Newlands.

All price points of the Mondavi brand peform, according to Newlands. He boasted that the Robert Mondavi Bourbon Barrel-Aged wines have gone from “zero to a million cases” in three years.

Constellation is “by far the largest growth-driver of dollars in the retail beverage alcohol space and, in fact, [they] are bigger than the next several players combined,” Newlands told the analysts.

Poached Scallops with Eggplant Purée

Wine Enthusiast - February 21, 2019 - 10:15am

Courtesy David Castro Hussong, chef/owner, Fauna, Valle de Guadalupe

This dish makes the most of brown butter, used both to poach the scallops and braise the charred eggplant for the purée. The menu at Fauna changes constantly, but this dish is almost always available.

The Chef David Castro Hussong

Hussong, an Ensenada native, comes from a family whose restaurant is often credited with inventing the Margarita in the 1940s. At 28 years old, he’s one of the region’s most acclaimed chefs. Fauna is the restaurant at Bruma, a stunning hotel and winery, but it is quickly becoming a destination in itself.

Three Recipes and Pairings from Baja California

Simple Grilled Octopus

Wine Enthusiast - February 21, 2019 - 10:15am

Courtesy Javier Plascencia, chef/owner, Finca Altozano, Valle de Guadalupe

This modestly named octopus dish is boiled, grilled, marinated and braised, but the entire process is quite simple and can even be done in stages. Soy sauce, ponzu sauce and saké reflect the culinary contributions of Baja’s Japanese population.

The Chef Javier Plascencia

Plascencia is perhaps the best-known chef in Baja California, often credited with its emergence as a culinary destination. One of his six restaurants, Finca Altozano is an asador campestre, or country grill. The open-air restaurant is set among vineyards with animals that roam the grounds. It also boasts what may be the most extensive list of Baja wines in the country.

Three Recipes and Pairings from Baja California

Roasted Pork Cheeks with Tomato Chutney

Wine Enthusiast - February 21, 2019 - 10:14am

Courtesy Drew Deckman, chef/owner, Deckman’s en El Mogor, Valle de Guadalupe

Pork cheek is an underutilized and economical cut that braises very well. Order them from a butcher, as no other cut makes a perfect substitute. This recipe makes more chutney than you’ll need, but it keeps a long time in the refrigerator and there are plenty of ways to use it.

Three Recipes and Pairings from Baja California The Chef Drew Deckman

At his restaurant in the middle of Rancho El Mogor, Georgia transplant Drew Deckman takes advantage of the region’s immense culinary resources. Almost every ingredient at Deckman’s is grown on site or sourced from the immediate vicinity, down to the salt and olive oil.

Three Recipes and Pairings from Baja California

Wine Enthusiast - February 21, 2019 - 9:53am

One of the hottest destinations for American wine travelers isn’t actually in the United States. It’s south of the border in Mexico, just two hours from the San Diego airport.

As Baja California’s wine production grows, more and more travelers are discovering the region’s charms firsthand. Almost one million visitors per year venture to Valle de Guadalupe, the heart of Baja (and Mexican) wine production. There, wineries are just a short distance from one another, but each feels like a remote oasis.

The majority of area hotels are eco-friendly retreats that offer breathtaking vistas, and restaurants are primarily open-air, open-fire spots with a romantic rusticity that belies the sophistication of the food. The region’s cuisine draws from the coastline and northern Mexican tradition, but with Mediterranean and East Asian influences.

We asked three top chefs to pick a favorite Baja bottle and create a recipe to pair with it.

Wines of Baja

Valle de Guadalupe and its neighboring regions offer a dry Mediterranean climate with cool nights and a maritime influence that suits a variety of grapes. Reds that thrive here include Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Tempranillo, Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre and Nebbiolo. Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier are the whites that take center stage.

The wines tend to be full-bodied, with ultraripe fruit and savory notes, but they can also be surprisingly crisp and elegant. A collegial winemaking scene and a “rising tide lifts all boats” attitude has helped improve quality.

Jump Straight to a Recipe  Roasted Pork Cheeks with Tomato Chutney Scallops with Eggplant Purée Simple Grilled Octopus

Wine & Design: Modern Living in a Medieval Villa (Wine Spectator)

Wine Spectator Headlines - February 21, 2019 - 8:30am

"When you live in the flatlands, you see the horizon," reflects Matteo Lunelli, president and CEO of Ferrari Trento winery and CEO of the Lunelli Group. He does not live in the flatlands, but among the high peaks of the northern Italian city of Trento, where the view is both stunning and disorienting: "In the middle of the mountains, your horizon is completely changing and moving. It's a sensation that I personally love—for me, that's my home."

In 2003, Matteo, now 45, left a career at Goldman Sachs in London to join the family wine estate, one of Italy's most consistently excellent producers of sparkling wine. His wife, Valentina, 45, hoped to settle in the city, whereas Matteo wanted the country. Ultimately, they struck a compromise: They'd move into the urbane, modern duplex penthouse of a six-story building in the heart of historic Trento, surrounded by mountains. There was just one catch: That duplex didn't yet exist.

But the building did. A centuries-old palazzo turned hotel, it had been bombed and heavily damaged during World War II. In 1954, a renovation added a fifth and sixth floor. The Lunellis' real estate concern bought the building in 1993, converting it into rental apartments, and Matteo and Valentina moved into a top-floor unit in 2003. Six years later, they bought the top two stories, rolled up their sleeves and prepared to combine four modest apartments into one roomy residence.

"When you build [a home] not from scratch but from an existing situation, it is not an easy project," Matteo says. "It was very complicated." The process took two years.

The Lunellis worked with noted architect Matteo Thun to let the rugged surroundings into the apartment. Thanks to the previous midcentury renovation, there were already bigger windows than are typical of old buildings. "It's a warm apartment but with a lot of light," Valentina says. Under Thun's direction, frameless Sky-Frame sliding doors were installed to connect the living room to a large deck, and the floor-to-ceiling window in the kitchen makes it feel as though you're outside and inside simultaneously.

The kitchen is a high-gloss matrix of geometric precision, with bits of texture and warmth from a reclaimed-wood table and an eye-catching column wrapped in porcelain tiles. "We had to have a column from a structural point of view," Matteo explains. So they turned it into a design element.

Valentina feeds the family "a typical Mediterranean cuisine," she says. You won't find much butter in her kitchen, but there's plenty of good olive oil for "very simple cooking but with very good materia prima." And Matteo has a couple pasta dishes up his sleeve: During truffle season, he makes tagliolini al tartufo, and an Ischian chef friend, Nino di Costanzo, taught him and the kids—Riccardo, 14, and Vittoria, 12—to perfect their pasta al pomodoro.

Matteo is a great fan of the Italian convention of aperitivo, or predinner snacks and wine. He collects specialty products from all over Italy—Calvisius caviar from the town of Calvisano, Cerignola olives, the Parma salumi culatello, cured Sardinian bluefin tuna, Neapolitan bufala mozzarella, Frantoia Muraglia olive oil from Puglia—all of which winds up at aperitivo hour, paired with a dry sparkler.

The greater part of the Lunellis' wine collection resides in off-site storage, but they cellar about 300 bottles in the basement of the apartment building, which is mercifully dark, cool and constant. A small stash of drink-now bottles live in a Gaggenau wine cooler in the kitchen.

They love to collect wines from their children's birth years. From Riccardo's vintage of 2004, there's Tenuta San Leonardo and the Lunellis' own top bottling, Giulio Ferrari Riserva del Fondatore, aged for 10 years before release. From 2006, Vittoria's birth year, there's Giulio Ferrari Rosé, the first vintage-dated bottling of that cuvée, and Sassicaia.

Matteo has also managed to amass holdings from his own birth year, 1974, including Gaja Barbaresco, Mastroberardino Taurasi, Col d'Orcia Brunello di Montalcino and Bertani Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Superiore. "It's not because it was an amazing vintage," he says, "but there are some very good wines still from 1974. It's always fascinating to think about a wine which has your own age."

The Lunellis enjoy their aperitivo on the deck during milder weather, but during chilly northern Italian winters, they gravitate to the kitchen. "It's natural that it is the heart of the house," Matteo says. "It's part of the Italian culture, in a sense, but also because of what we do." Here, with a glass of bubbly in hand, the horizon shifting around them, the Lunellis are home.

Photo Gallery

Photos by Stefano Scatà; click any image to enlarge

aperitivo. Green furniture accentuates the olive trees, lemon trees and other plant life, and the prep sink area is made from the local volcanic paving stone porphyry." href="/contentimage/wso/Articles/2019/WD_LunelliC022019_1600.jpg"> Lettera d’amore alle muse del bosco, is by Nicola de Maria, and the bronze turtle shell is a miniature replica of the Lunellis' winery in Umbria, designed by Arnaldo Pomodoro." href="/contentimage/wso/Articles/2019/WD_LunelliF022019_450.jpg">

Gimblett Gravels 2016: Vintage snapshot

Decanter Magazine - February 21, 2019 - 8:14am

Driving through Napier, a roadside billboard sported a glass of Tui beer alongside the slogan 'Pinot Nah'...

90% of vines planted in the Gimblett Gravels district are red varieties.

It was clever but flawed: when global advertising moguls Saatchi & Saatchi came up with the brewery campaign targeted at the Hawke’s Bay, they clearly hadn’t researched the varieties in the region – this is a land that has long said ‘nah’ to Pinot Noir in favour of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah.

function trackVivino(wineId, initialAction) { if (window.ipc && window.ipc.utils) { const category = 'Premium'; const action = 'Vivino Buy '+initialAction; var label = wineId+ ' ~ Collection ~ '+initialAction; window.ipc.utils.trackEvent(category, action, label); } }

You might also like: Hawke’s Bay: Beyond Gimblett Gravels The ultimate New Zealand wine road trip Beyond Sauvignon: Top New Zealand white wines

The post Gimblett Gravels 2016: Vintage snapshot appeared first on Decanter.

Anson: How is the Bordeaux 2018 vintage shaping up?

Decanter Magazine - February 21, 2019 - 1:53am
What to expect from Bordeaux 2018

The Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux, the group that overseas the 133 châteaux that form the heart of classified Bordeaux, held its annual general meeting last week.

This year marked the handover of the presidency from Olivier Bernard, of Domaine de Chevalier, to Ronan Laborde, of Château Clinet, which meant there was a particularly good turnout of members.

Even without this major event, the AGM is always held at this time of year, and is a good time to take the temperature of the upcoming en primeur campaign.

The wider the smiles, the better the vintage is likely to be. I can still remember the cartwheeling in 2009 and 2010, and the triumphalism over pricing – something that has thankfully been toned down a little now.

I have to confess to being more sceptical than most of the châteaux owners I’ve been speaking to about the upcoming Bordeaux 2018 en primeur tastings.

I know that 2018 was a complicated year, no matter what they are saying today. I remember just how rainy things were through Spring and early Summer, and I saw the devastation of the mildew. It was definitely a year when you needed to work weekends to stay on top of your vineyard.

‘These are likely to be high impact wines.’

But I was also here as things turned hot and dry, and stayed that way right through to the end of October. It was clear during harvest that the grapes coming in to the cellar were clean and fragrant, with extremely low incidence of rot and beautiful looking skins.

Tasting vat samples

And I’ve since tasted some excellent vats of juice, both immediately after harvest and during blending sessions at châteaux.

All of this made the Enosens wine consultancy tasting even more interesting than usual.

A group of 14 consultants overseeing 30,000ha of vines and 1,400 clients across nearly every AOC, the tasting gives an overview of 40 samples, all presented blind, from different appellations at three quality levels – entry, mid and high.

It definitely helped clarify what we’re looking at, particularly when put together with my conversation this week with Axel Marchal, professor at the Institute of Wine and Vine Science (ISVV), as he prepares his annual vintage overview.

It’s still too early to say if 2018 will live up to the hype of course – en primeur doesn’t start for another month. But, taking all of that into account, what should we be looking out for as we approach this vintage?

Bordeaux 2018 weather recap

Let’s keep this quick. Winter was cooler than usual but not much, spring 1.5 degrees warmer than the 10 year average, with a lot of rain falling from January to the end of June, and into early July. Overall, however, 2018 saw more rain than 2015 and 2016, but less than 2017 and under the 30-year average when looking at March to September.

‘August to October were extremely hot, and overall we had the second hottest summer after 2003, but there was very little blocking of ripening because of the rain in early season, except for young vines and extremely dry soils,’ said Martin Lasserre, of Union Régionale Agricole Bordelaise.

‘Budding was late but prolific, possibly because the vines were compensating after the frost of 2017.

Colour change on the other hand came two day earlier than average because the drought was fully installed by August, and harvest was near perfect. The conditions overall meant lots of concentration, high sugars, and very little rot. Most winemakers brought in small berries with thick skins, full of anthocyanins’.

Expect big bold wines, high tannic content

All of the above means these are likely to be high impact wines. Patrick Meynard, owner of Châteaux Lalaudey and Pomeys in Moulis-Médoc, said 2018 will deliver the most structured wines since 2010, and expects ‘a vintage marked by climate more than terroir’.

Having said that, it’s always impossible to discount the impact of soils entirely. Both rain and drought can be challenging to certain soil types.

Almost certainly the worst affected by the drought will be sands, because sand can exacerbate drainage, and heat. Therefore the berries on these types of soil are most likely to be shriveled, and to have extremely high pH levels, which means low acidity. The weather pattern means clear similarities to 2016 on paper – a rainy start to the vintage, a drought-like finish. But in terms of how the grapes reacted and behaved, the two years are quite different.

‘For a start, the drought came later in 2018,’ says Marchal, pointing out that early July saw less rain in 2016. ‘But when it came in 2018, it was more abrupt, with the green growth stopping across the whole region at pretty much the same time’. He sees it closer to 2009, but with more density to the fruit.

… and high alcohols

There was some disconnect this year between technical and phenolic maturity, greater in reds than in whites, so look out for high alcohols as a result. The hot summer meant that pyrazine was easily burnt away, so we should find very few green notes.

Alcohols will be highest on cooler soils that needed a long time to ripen, so the Côtes, the Satellites and the cooler parts of St-Emilion have alcohols at 14.5-15%abv and more. I heard of one Cabernet Franc coming in at 16.5%abv, but that is an exception. In earlier-ripening areas, such as Pessac-Léognan and Pomerol, alcohols are likely to be more balanced at 13.5% or 14%abv, as they will have reached full phenolic ripeness earlier.

‘Pessac-Léognan did the best perhaps because it’s an early ripening site,’ said Marie-Laurence Porte of Enosens, ‘so they were able to get grapes in before over-concentration. If you had to wait for phenolic ripeness, that is where things could get difficult’.

The final averages per grape, according to Fabien Faget of Enosens, are Sauvignon Blanc 13.5%abv, Sémillon 12.5%abv, Merlot 14.5%abv, and Cabernet Sauvignon 14%abv’.

Look out for part two next week, set to look more closely at the Left and Right Banks, plus yields and what the vintage needed in the cellar

The post Anson: How is the Bordeaux 2018 vintage shaping up? appeared first on Decanter.

10 Wines for a Host-Less Oscars

Wine Enthusiast - February 20, 2019 - 2:39pm

Normally our roundups have a theme, such as 10 Big, Heavy Reds to Drink While You Hide Under a Blanket With or The Wines We Scored 100 Points in 2018, but not this time.

To match this year’s theme-less Oscars, we’ve rounded up a diverse selection of red, white and sparkling wines that have nothing in common other than they’re all editors’ top picks, which means they’re darn delicious.

So, if you’re planning to watch the awards show this Sunday, you’ll want to pop open one or more of these bottlings.

Rosés and Fizzy Reds Are The New Light Winter Wines

Schloss Gobelsburg 2016 Reserve Zweigelt (Niederösterreich); $39, 94 points. A heady, perfumed note of peony-tinged cherry has an exciting frisson of white pepper about it. The palate continues with a silky, red-fruited spiciness that marks out delicious cool-climate reds. There is concentration and density at the core of this honest Zweigelt. Skurnik Wines, Inc. Editors’ Choice. —Anne Krebiehl

Martian Ranch 2016 Absolute Magnitude Gamay Noir (Santa Barbara County); $40, 94 points. The slow rise of Gamay Noir on the Central Coast shows immense promise for lovers of mineral inflected, lighter styles of wine. This bottling offers wet slate and gravel on the nose along with sagebrush and light berries. The palate’s tart cranberry fruit takes a backseat to wet rocks, tobacco leaf and mossy forest floor. Editors’ Choice. —Matt Kettmann

Château du Trignon 2013 Grenache-Mourvèdre (Rasteau); $22, 93 points. Five years after bottling, this wine still offers loads of fresh, punchy blackberry and plum flavors. It’s a bold, penetrating wine nuanced by hints of granite and wet earth. The fresh finish lingers on fine, integrated tannins. Lovely now it should improve further through 2022 and hold a few years longer. David Milligan Selections. Editors’ Choice. —Anna Lee C. Iijima

Patz & Hall 2016 Pinot Noir (Sonoma Coast); $48, 93 points. This is a heck of a deal for the quality: an appellation wine with juicy intensity and a rich layering of red and blue fruit. With plenty of tannic power beneath its integrated texture are secondary notes of forest, clove and black tea that complement the fruit beautifully. Editors’ Choice. —Virginie Boone

De Wetshof 2017 Lesca Chardonnay (Robertson); $22, 92 points. This is a pretty, clean, bright and well-balanced Chardonnay. It leads with scents of fresh red apple, crunchy melon rind, lemon balm and a touch of beeswax. Medium in weight, the ripe fruit flavors and soft toasty elements are enlivened by great minerality and a vibrant acidic cut that carries through to the mouthwatering finish. Faint touches of toasted almond and pressed yellow flower appear on the finish. Broadbest Selections, Inc. Editors’ Choice. —Lauren Buzzeo

Quady North 2017 Pistoleta White (Rogue Valley); $20, 91 points. Herb Quady’s proprietary blend of cofermented Viognier, Roussanne and Marsanne is finished with a splash of Grenache Blanc and Vermentino. An aromatic delight, it sends up beguiling scents of orange blossom, lemon rind and apricot fruit. It’s deep, ripe and rich, bursting with fresh fruit flavors that are buoyed with tangy acidity. Editors’ Choice. —Paul Gregutt

J. Laurens 2016 Clos des Demoiselles Tête de Cuvée Brut (Crémant de Limoux); $22, 91 points. Delicate aromas of crushed white peony, lemon verbena, chalk and apple flesh dance in the bouquet of this attractive sparkling wine, while flavors of green apple, yellow plum and lemon zest are direct and mouthwatering. The palate is fresh and zippy, with a lively mousse and bright acidity that lead into a medium-length but seriously refreshing finish. Vigneron Imports. Editors’ Choice. —L.B.

Pala 2017 Chiaro di Stelle Red (Isola dei Nuraghi); $16, 90 points. A blend of Sardinia’s native grapes Monica, Carignano and Cannonau, this fragrant rosato boasts enticing scents of wild berry, Mediterranean brush and chopped herb. Bright and tangy, the light-bodied savory palate offers strawberry, Marasca cherry, white pepper and a hint of blood orange alongside a saline note. Banville Wine Merchants. Editors’ Choice. —Kerin O’Keefe

Quinta de Paços 2016 Casa do Capitão-Mor Alvarinho (Vinho Verde); $18, 90 points. This ripe wine is just nicely ready to drink. It is full bodied and rich with concentrated green-fruit flavors, good acidity and a smooth final texture. From the northern Vinho Verde region, it is ready to drink now. Amphorium LLC. Editors’ Choice. —Roger Voss

A to Z NV Bubbles Rosé (Oregon); $18, 88 points. Closed with a crown cap, this party-ready, cherry-candy bubbly is fresh, lively and just plain fun. Pinkish-gold in color, with big bubbles and a burst of fruit flavor, it’s fine with salmon, poultry or all by itself. Editors’ Choice. —P.G.

Is Champagne gluten free? – Ask Decanter

Decanter Magazine - February 20, 2019 - 8:09am

Can coeliacs drink Champagne and sparkling wines?

Is Champagne gluten free? – Ask Decanter

Kat, by email, asks: I have coeliac disease and I’m wondering if I can safely drink sparkling wines?

Norma McGough, director of policy, research & campaigns at Coeliac UK, replies: Wine, sparkling wine and Champagne are all gluten free – despite autolytic flavour descriptors like bread, brioche and biscuit. 

Although the minutiae of food regulation may vary from country to country, management of allergens in the production of food and drink has become a global concern.

So if there was an indication that an allergenic ingredient had been used in the processing or storage of a product such as wine (which is not necessarily labelled gluten free) and that it remained in the end product at a significant level, it would have to be identified on the label.

Read more on wine and gluten here

This question first appeared in the March 2019 issue of Decanter magazine.

See more wine questions answered here

The post Is Champagne gluten free? – Ask Decanter appeared first on Decanter.

Top South African red wines to try

Decanter Magazine - February 20, 2019 - 7:25am

Decanter's Tastings team pick out the wines to hunt down...

Showcasing the diversity of South Africa, our top picks include Cabernet, Syrah, Pinotage and more...

When you think of South African red wines, different styles come to mind – maybe the national grape, Pinotage, or maybe its Bordeaux-style blends. Or even its elegant Pinot Noirs.

South Africa is a diverse country ranging from hot inland areas such as Swartland and Robertson, to much cooler, coastal areas such as Walker Bay and Constantia.

Decanter’s Tastings team recently attended a tasting of over 50 wines that have been awarded five stars in the 2019 edition of the Platter South African Wine Guide, narrowing the selection down to an elite handful of red wines that should be in your cellar or winerack.

The best South African red wines:

 

function trackVivino(wineId, initialAction) { if (window.ipc && window.ipc.utils) { const category = 'Premium'; const action = 'Vivino Buy '+initialAction; var label = wineId+ ' ~ Collection ~ '+initialAction; window.ipc.utils.trackEvent(category, action, label); } } You might also like: Best French wines: 100 point scores Getting better with age: Old-vine Chenin Blanc in South Africa Hemel-en-Aarde wineries to visit

The post Top South African red wines to try appeared first on Decanter.

Les Pénitentes (Angers)

Derain, Mosse & Co Angers, Loire Valley There are a few days at the turn of january and february when Angers is bustling with winemakers, wine geeks and professionnals from all over. Beyond the Salon d'Angers around which it all... Foteyes

Burgundy dominates most expensive iDealwine auctions 2018

Decanter Magazine - February 20, 2019 - 2:42am

Burgundy continued to dominate the fine wine auction scene in 2018, accounting for 42 out of the 50 most expensive bottles sold by online auctioneer iDealwine during the year.

DRC accounted for more than half of the Burgundy bottles on the top 50 list

That figure was up from 32 in 2017, leaving Bordeaux with only two wines in iDealwine’s top 50 – down from 15 the year before, with a resurgent Rhône taking the other six places.

Top position went to a bottle of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti (DRC) Romanée-Conti Grand Cru 2005, which sold for €16,173, followed by a magnum of Château Mouton Rothschild 1945 at €15,808.

DRC accounted for more than half of the Burgundy bottles on the list (22), with 10 coming from its eponymous Grand Cru. Henri Jayer and Domaine Leflaive accounted for three bottles each.

In 2018, DRC also helped auction house Sotheby’s break its sales records. 

The showing by the Rhône – six wines in the top 50, up from two in 2017 – was entirely due to the performance of older vintages of Jean-Louis Chave’s Cuvée Cathelin Hermitage.

Among the most expensive lots (rather than bottles) sold by iDealwine during the year, Bordeaux accounted for 30 out of the top 50 (Burgundy 18, Rhône two), reflecting the greater volume of the region’s wines and the tendency to sell them in multiple-bottle lots.

A 12-bottle case of Château Latour 1961, sold for €46,816, topped the list. Latour and Pétrus dominated the Bordeaux showing, accounting for nine and 13 lots respectively.

Reds from the Côte de Nuits dominated the Burgundy rankings, supplemented by several whites from Montrachet on the Côte de Beaune.

The highest-place Côte de Beaune red was a 1978 Volnay Clos des Ducs from Domaine du Marquis d’Angerville, a six-bottle lot sold for €6,834 and placed 55th.

See also: Whiskie’s dominate Christie’s top 10 ‘wine lots’ in 2018

The post Burgundy dominates most expensive iDealwine auctions 2018 appeared first on Decanter.

Climate Change and Canada’s Icewine Industry

Wine Enthusiast - February 19, 2019 - 12:00pm

Jamie Slingerland spends a lot of time checking the weather.

As director of viticulture for Pillitteri Estates Winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, he needs the temperature at 17–18°F to harvest grapes for ice wine. Slingerland used to pick grapes in late December, but he says warming temperatures have shifted harvest times and fewer frigid nights have made the crop less predictable.

“In the years since I started harvesting ice wine grapes, the windows of cold temperatures have become less and we’ve had fewer and fewer opportunities to harvest,” says Slingerland. “We used to pick two or three times between Christmas and the New Year. Now, that happens once every five to seven years.”

Canada is the largest producer of ice wine in the world. The crop generates more than $6.8 billion annually, but climate change could thaw the thriving industry.

“Europe used to be a competitor of ours in the ice wine industry, but they’ve had extremely warm winters these last five or six years and there has been no real ice wine crop… I worry that we will have a similar situation here.” –Jamie Slingerland, director of viticulture, Pillitteri Estates Winery

To make ice wine, grape varieties like Vidal Blanc, Riesling, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon are left to freeze on the vine, ideally thawing and refreezing multiple times throughout the season. The grapes are harvested while frozen, which ensures water in the fruit has separated from the sugars. Once pressed, the resulting juice is concentrated and sticky sweet, ideal for producing Icewine.

Data shows a steady decrease in the number of days where it’s been cold enough to harvest grapes for ice wine. In January 1977, there were 26 days below 18°F. By January 2007, the number of suitable days fell to just three.

To complicate matters, warming temperatures make vines more sensitive to cold, prone to freeze damage and reduce their ability to survive extreme cold. That’s caused significant reductions in yield, according to one study.

Growers are worried about the impact of climate change on ice wine production, according to Gary Pickering, researcher at the Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute at Brock University.

“I think the big concern is what lies ahead,” says Pickering.

Harvest for Icewine at Pillitteri Estates Winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario / Photo courtesy Pillitteri Estates Winery The Race to Adapt Heats Up

Although Pillitteri Estates Winery has never missed a harvest, Slingerland admits that it’s become more difficult to gather the 50 acres of ice wine grapes needed during an ever-shrinking window of cold temperatures.

In 2002, temperatures dropped below 18°F on just two nights. A crew of 65 raced to get the grapes off the vines. Slingerland decided manual harvesting was no longer sustainable. The vineyard started to adopt mechanical harvesters. It allows the team to harvest the full crop, as regulations require picking to cease when temperatures warm up.

“Climate change has definitely impacted our grape growing and wine industry here and our ability to produce ice wine, but we, the growers, the wineries, have adapted to that change,” he says.

Mechanical harvesting is just one of the ways that growers have adjusted to a changing climate. In Ontario, vineyards are being planted further north, which has created new wine regions in areas like Prince Edward County and Georgian Bay.

“I have to ever put a positive spin on climate change,” says Pickering. “But we can migrate north. We have a lot of land up there, and we have to realize that we might fare better than most because of our geography.”

The Great Ice Wine Tradition of the American Midwest

Growers also now plant varieties once considered unsuitable to the Niagara region. Pickering cites climate change as the main reason growers are devoting increased acreage to Italian red grape varieties, like Sangiovese and Nebbiolo.

“What we’re seeing in Niagara already, and what we predict to see much more of, is much greater success with warmer and even hotter-climate varieties…because we know we’ll get warmer temperatures during the ripening season and see less extreme cold events during winter,” says Pickering.

This most recent season, the first 18°F night the Niagara wine region on November 22. Grapes harvested too soon are less sweet and produce less complex ice wines than those that remain on the vines through several freeze/thaw cycles.

“I don’t have enough [Icewine] to get us through another year, so we’d have to harvest next year, but with the weather, we never know what we’re going to get.” –Fraser Mowat, owner, Harbour Estates Winery

Based on the condition of the grapes in the fall, Fraser Mowat, owner of Harbour Estates Winery, decided not to produce ice wine this season. It’s the first year that the Niagara winery hasn’t produced an Icewine vintage since 1999.

“We had enough inventory to carry us through the year,” says Mowat. “I don’t have enough [ice wine] to get us through another year, so we’d have to harvest next year, but with the weather, we never know what we’re going to get.”

Slingerland, concerned that the weather might force him to miss a harvest, has started to build an inventory of ice wine. Pillitteri Estates Winery produced 300,000 liters of ice wine last season, and it plans to continue the practice to protect against weather-related losses. But Slingerland admits it’s not a guarantee.

“Europe used to be a competitor of ours in the ice wine industry, but they’ve had extremely warm winters these last five or six years and there has been no real ice wine crop in Europe,” he says. “I worry that we will have a similar situation here. We have enough inventory to carry us through the next ice wine harvest, [but] could we withstand two years in a row? It’d be extremely, extremely hard for us.”

Bruce Nicholson, winemaker at Inniskillin, who has produced Icewine for three decades A Chilly Response to Climate Concerns

If temperatures continue to rise over the coming decades, Pickering believes the viability of ice wine production in the Niagara region could be jeopardized.

New research claims that 60% of Canadian wine growers believe climate change has an impact on their vineyards. Some have implemented changes to adapt, but others remain skeptical.

Mowat isn’t willing to blame climate change for skipping the grape harvest this year. Instead, he calls the earlier-than-usual freeze “an anomaly,” something that can happen with any agricultural product.

“[N]o matter what’s happening climate-wise, we are always, as farmers…at the mercy of the weather,” he says.

“[Icewine] does come with risks, there’s no question about it, and that’s why it’s such a unique product. And it’s a product Canadians do so well.” –Bruce Nicholson, winemaker, Inniskillin

In Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Inniskillin winemaker Bruce Nicholson has produced ice wine for three decades. While he admits that hitting 18°F in late November 2018 made him a little nervous, he remains optimistic.

“In all of the conversations I’ve ever had about ice wine, [climate change] has never come up,” he says. “ I’ve lived here long enough…and we’re not going to get through December, January and February without having that opportunity to pick…so I don’t lose one minute of sleep thinking, ‘Is climate change going to keep us from doing ice wine next year or the year after that?’ ”

Producing a product dependent on a precise temperature is risky business, Nicholson admits, but that is part of the appeal of ice wine.

“It does come with risks, there’s no question about it, and that’s why it’s such a unique product,” he says. “And it’s a product Canadians do so well.”

Syndicate content