Tuesday tidbits 23

? Screw tops for Sonoma-Cutrer in Texas: This is not some low-end grocery store wine, either. Sonoma-Cutrer is one of the most popular restaurant brands in the country, and its wines run as much as $65 retail. So why the new enclosures? Winemaker Terry Adams says the Stelvin screwcap makes the wine better than using a cork.

? Another reason why we like Jancis Robinson: Wine writers should be be more humble and honest, the leading English wine critic told an international panel of wine writers and winemakers in Spain. “‘We must always remember that we are parasites on the business of winemaking,” she said. Or, as the Wine Curmudgeon always says, tell people what the wine tastes like and let them make up their own minds, without any gobbledigook or winespeak or any of the other crap that too many of us foist on the public.

? Ingredients on wine labels: This proposal has been kicking around the federal agency that regulates wine sales for a couple of years. Officials want wine labels to include the same things that are on canned goods: serving sizes, calories, carbohydrates, fat, protein and potential allergens on the label. The industry is less than thrilled, citing the usual sorts of issues industries always cite. No word yet on if — or when — the government will rule on this.

The Chateau Pavie controversy

image Dan Peabody, who works for Dallas’ Spirivin Group, pulled the wine out of his carrying case. It was inside a paper bag, so I couldn’t see what it was. He poured a taste.

I smelled. I sipped. I swallowed. John Bookwalter, the winemaker for Washington state’s Bookwalter Winery, looked at me. “What do you think?”

Peabody, Bookwalter and I were at lunch to taste three new Bookwalter releases (which I’ll write about later). But we were also tasting a fourth wine, which the two of them had brought to challenge my palate and tease me a little. I would taste the wine blind and see if I could identify it.

I failed miserably, which was the point.

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Wine review: Rosemount Estate Diamond Label Sauvignon Blanc 2007

image The Australians don’t usually do sauvignon blanc well. The climate is mostly too warm, there isn’t a great demand for it outside of Australia, and the country’s winemakers prefer to spend their time on big red wines.

So the Wine Curmudgeon expected very little from this — and learned, once again, never to assume when it comes to wine. The Rosemount is wonderful $10 wine, an amazing accomplishment. It’s clean and crisp, without any of the flabby character usually associated with warm climate sauvignon blanc.

It’s more California in style than New Zealand, which means tropical flavors as opposed to the big grapefruit that New Zealand is know for. Served chilled, this is a porch sipper as well as an amiable companion for grilled chicken and  shellfish (shrimp on the barbie, perhaps?)

Wine of the week: Macon-Lugny Les Charmes 2006

Wine of the week: Macon-Lugny Les Charmes 2006 I stumbled on this inexpensive white Burgundy during my wine tasting extravaganza last week. The Les Charmes (about $11) is an example of a wine that gets lost in the cracks — a solid value that is overlooked in the rush to find new wines, hipper wines, and trendier wines. Which is too bad, because it’s well worth drinking. (The above link is in French, in case anyone feels adventurous.)

White Burgundy is chardonnay, and in the Macon (a region in Burgundy), this kind of chardonnay isn’t aged in oak. That delivers a crisper, cleaner, more fruit-centered wine than most California chardonnay. Look for green apple, a little lemon, and a refreshing finish. Serve it chilled with main course salads, grilled and roasted chicken, and even as an aperitif.

A day in the life of a wine writer: One lunch, three tastings, and six hours

A day in the life of a wine writer: One lunch, three tastings, and six hours No one ever believes the Wine Curmudgeon when he tells them that wine writing is a lot more than sipping $100 bottles in five-star restaurants in the company of mini-skirted and leather-booted PR women.

It’s work — not mining coal or repairing roofs work, but work nonetheless. Last Thursday, I attended a wine lunch at 12:30 p.m., went to two walk-around tastings, and then did a home wine tasting as one of Two Wine Guys — all in the space of six hours. And I skipped two other events. (One sales rep said skipping them proved I wasn’t manly enough. I think he was joking.) This wasn’t a typical day, but something like it happens a couple of times a year.

Why did I do it? To taste wine that I wouldn’t normally taste, and especially expensive wine. To schmooze with other wine writers, wine executives and wine makers, which is an integral part of doing this job well. And because the point of writing about wine is to drink as much of it as possible.

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Tuesday tidbits 22

? The Wine Generation Gap: Alan Goldfarb, writing for Appellation America, describes what he calls a difference in the way younger and older drinkers approach wine. I’m not so sure his analysis is completely on the mark — blaming “digital culture” seems a little simple — but there is a difference. I tend to see it centered around how my generation came to wine, which was from drinking beer, and how younger people came to wine, which is from drinking cocktails. We saw wine as a social step up from beer, and wanted to learn how to fit in. They see wine as an extension of drinking, where a 17 percent zinfandel is no different than a fruit martini made with flavored vodka. The piece is worth reading, and so are the comments.

? Wine health update: Could raise breast cancer risk, but may prevent onset of dementia in women. One of the most fascinating developments in the wine business has been watching researchers fall all over themselves to find out if wine is healthy. Not sure why that is, other than wine research is more fun to do than the usual run of academic study. But one doesn’t need research to know that wine is good for you — enjoyed in moderation with a healthy diet, regular exercise, and no cigarettes.

? Bizarre 2008 vintage for Australia: Aussie winemakers are calling the 2008 vintage one of the strangest on record — soaring temperatures above 95 for 16 days in a row in one region, alcohol levels in some grapes above 20 percent, high even for Down Under, and one of the earliest harvests ever, eight weeks ahead of normal.