Four regional wines that show just how far Drink Local has come in the past decade
Regional wine has come a long way in the decade-plus of the blog’s history, from an afterthought in most of the country to an important part of the wine business in a dozen or so states. How far has it come? Consider these four regional wines:
• Breaux Vineyards Cabernet Franc Lafayette 2015 ($26, sample, 13.5%): Virginia wine quality is so much better than the first time I tasted it, more than 20 years ago, that it’s almost hard to believe. The Breaux is a case in point: A well-made, bright, and approachable East Coast cabernet franc in a fruit forward (cherry?) style without flaws, oddities, or regional wine goofiness. Plus, structured tannins to offset the fruit and lots of balance. And, even at this price, a fair value.
• McPherson Cellars Reserve Roussanne 2015 ($18, purchased, 13.5): This may be McPherson’s best reserve roussanne, which is saying something since it has traditionally been among the finest wines in Texas. Impeccably made, with lime fruit and just enough oak to balance the acidity. This is not a one-note wine, but is still very young and tight. It will age for at least three or four years, if not longer, and will open up and become more expressive with fruit and aroma. Highly recommended.
• Fall Creek Sauvingon Blanc Vintners Selection 2016 ($21, sample, 13%): It’s too hot in Texas to make quality sauvignon blanc, but Fall Creek’s Sergio Cuadra has found a way to do it. This wine is more Chilean in style, not surprising since Cuadra is Chilean — tropical and lime fruit, as well as herbal (mint and lemongrass?), but still crisp and fresh. In this, as befitting its price, it’s more elegant than most one-note sauvignon blancs.
• Presque Isle Eskimo Kisses 2016 ($30/375- ml bottle, sample, 12%): This ice-style wine from the Lake Erie appellation (parts of Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York) is a tremendous value, about half the price of traditional ice wine. Yet it still hits most of the ice wine highlights – rich, luscious, honeyed, with a just a tiny bit of lemon. This vintage is still quite young, and probably needs another year in the bottle. The bad news? Very limited availability, still a problem for the regional wine business.
This week’s wine news: More Chinese fake booze, plus soaring Napa land prices and good news for ice wine drinkers
• Fake booze: The Chinese just can’t seem to get a break when it comes to alcohol fraud. This time, reports thedrinksbusiness.com. Police in two provinces broke up counterfeiting rings earlier this year, one specializing in the fabled Chinese spirit baijiu, while the other filled empty bottles with cheap bulk wines and sold them as big name wines costing as much as RMB 3,000 (about US$431). The magazine says the fake wine had “convincing labels and caps.” Note to Chinese wine drinkers (as well those in the U.S. who buy this stuff): I write about wine, and I can’t get most of the wines they’re selling you. What does that say about the wines’ provenance?
• Real estate boom: Want to buy an acre of prime vineyard land in California’s Napa Valley? Then be prepared to pony up as much as $5 million, reports Lew Perdue at Wine Industry Insight. The chart that details these prices is as depressing as it is fascinating – even some Sonoma vineyard land is approaching Napa prices, something that has never really happened before. In other words, as land prices rise, more and more of the best California wine will be priced out of the reach of most wine consumers, and could even pressure prices upward for the wine we can afford to drink.
• Ice wine: Warm winters in the U.S., Canada, and Europe over the past decade have drastically cut the quality and quantity of ice wine, which is so sweet and amazing that it can be worth what it costs – $60 or more for a half bottle. The good news is that it has been cold enough in Michigan this year so that a couple of wineries will make ice wine this vintage, what one winemaker calls a rarity that always sells out. One of the great moments in my teaching career came when I let a Cordon Bleu class taste ice wine; they loved me forever.